Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues
on: October 18, 2008, 02:35:29 PM
October 18, 2008, 7:00 a.m.
Joe the Plumber vs. Joe the Hair-Plugger
Put that in your pipe and solder it.
By Mark Steyn
Give a man enough rope line and he’ll hang himself. There was His Serene Majesty President-designate Barack the Healer working the crowd at some or other hick burg, and halfway down the rope up pops a plumber to express misgivings about the incoming regime’s tax plans.
Supposedly, under the Obama tax plan, 95 per cent of the American people will get a tax cut. You’d think that at this point the natural skepticism of any sentient being other than six-week-old puppies might kick in, but apparently not. If you’re wondering why Obama didn’t simply announce that under his plan 112 per cent of the American people will get a tax cut, well, they ran it past the focus groups who said that that was all very generous but they’d really like it if he could find a way to stick it to Dick Cheney, Rush Limbaugh, Karl Rove and whatnot. So 95 per cent it is.
By the way, like the nightly news shows, this column now has an exclusive lavishly funded Fact Check Unit set up at great expense (a colorful graphic with the words “FACT CHECK ALERT!”) in a lame attempt to pass off our transparent political bias as some sort of scientific exercise. Our accredited credentialed licensed expert Fact Checkers from the University of Factology in the Czech Republic are standing by to rigorously Fact Check the candidate’s claims. We check facts so you don’t have to. All you have to do is sign up to our Fact-Check-Me-Now! service and we’ll send you a daily Fact Check on your Facts Machine, which costs only $79.95 from Radio Shack (sorry, no checks).
Anyway, our Fact Check Unit ran the numbers on the Obama tax-cut plan and the number is correct: “95.” It’s the words “per cent” immediately following that are wrong: that’s a typing error accidentally left in from the first draft. It should read: Under the Obama plan, 95 of the American people will get a tax cut.
Joe the Plumber expressed his misgivings about the President-in-waiting’s tax inclinations, and the O-Man smoothly reassured him: “It’s not that I want to punish your success,” he told the bloated plutocrat corporate toilet executive. “I just want to make sure that everybody who is behind you, that they’ve got a chance for success too. I think when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody.”
In that sentence about you spreading the wealth around, there’s another typing error: that “you” should read “I, Barack.” “You” will have no say in it. Joe the Plumber might think he himself can spread it around just fine, but everyone knows “trickle-down economics” don’t work. So President-presumptive Obama kindly explained the new exquisitely condescending “talking-down economics:” Put that in your pipe and solder it.
Evidently the O-Mighty One was not happy after his encounter with Joe. He’s still willing to talk to Ahmadinejad without preconditions. But never again will he talk to Joe the Plumber without preconditions. Outraged at the way the right-wing whackos were talking up Joe the Plumber as if he were an authentic regular Joe like Joe Biden, the O-Bots of the media swung into action. Vast regiments of investigate reporters were redeployed from the Wasilla Holiday Inn back to the Lower 48.
“We need you down here checking out this Joe the Plumber,” editors barked to journalists.
“But I’m this close to wrapping up the Wasilla Town Library banned-book investigation!”
“Forget it! The Atlantic Monthly is claiming Joe the Plumber is Trig’s real father. We can’t get behind on this. Get to Minneapolis Airport. Joe the Plumber was seen in the bathroom with Senator Larry Craig.”
“Yes, but he was installing a stopcock…”
“Look, you went to Columbia School of Journalism. This is what we bold courageous journalists do. We’re the conscience of the nation. We speak truth to plumber.”
“Er, shouldn’t that be ‘Speak truth to power’?”
“That’s the old edition of the handbook. Now we speak truth to power-tool operators. Joe the Carpenter, Joe the Plasterer, Joe the Electrician… When you’re building utopia, you don’t want any builders getting in the way.”
Alas, as a result of this massive investment of journalistic resouces, no investigative reporter will be free to investigate ACORN voter-registration fraud or Obama’s ties to terrorist educator William Ayers until, oh, midway through his second term at least.
Under the headline “Is ‘Joe The Plumber’ A Plumber? That’s Debatable”, John Seewer of the Associated Press triumphantly revealed that Joe is not a “licensed” plumber. In fact, he doesn’t need to be licensed for the residential plumbing he does, but isn’t that just typical of Bush-McCain insane out-of-control deregulation? It wouldn’t surprise me to discover that most of these subprime homeowners got Joe in to plumb their subprime bathrooms. Next thing you know, the entire global economy goes down the toilet. Coincidence?
Joe is now the most notorious plumber in American politics since the Watergate plumbers. And they weren’t licensed, either. It turns out Joe doesn’t even make 250 grand, and it’s only the 250-thousand-a-year types who’ll be paying more (please, no tittering) under Good King Barack. Joe Biden — that’s Joe the Bluecollar Senator — said that he didn’t know any 250,000-dollars plumbers in his neighborhood, or even in the first-class club car on Amtrak he rides every night to demonstrate his bluecollar bonafides. On Good Morning America, Diane Sawyer emphasized this point, anxious to give the apostate plumber one last chance to go with the flow:
“Well, I just want to ask you now about the issue that was raised, because it’s been a little confusing to me as I try to sort it out here. To get straight here, you’re not taking home $250,000 now, am I right?”
“No. No. Not even close,” confessed Joe.
So what’s he got to be worried about?
The heart of the American Dream is aspiration. That’s why people came here from all over the world. Back in eastern Europe, the Joe Bidens and Diane Sawyers of the day were telling Joe the Peasant: “Hey, look, man. You’re a peasant in the 19th century, just like your forebears were peasants in the 12th century and your descendants will be peasants in the 26th century. So you’re never gonna be earning 250 groats a year. Don’t worry about it. Leave it to us. We know better.” And Joe the Peasant eventually figured that one day he’d like to be able to afford the Premium Gruel with just a hint of arugula and got on the boat to Ellis Island. Because America is the land where a guy who doesn’t have a 250-grand business today might just have one in five or ten years’ time.
I’m with Joe the Plumber, not Joe the Hair-Plugger. He’s articulated the animating principles of America better than anyone on either side in this campaign. Which is why the O-Bots need to destroy him. As Obama’s catchphrase goes:
“Joe the Plumber!
Can we fix him?
Joe the Plumber!
Yes, we can!”
For the record, I am not a government-licensed pundit. But I expect they’ll fix that, too.
© Mark Steyn 2008
National Review Online - http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=OTUzMWU1ZDExNzM5ZDFkZmIyMDYxYTk3ZjhjYTdlZjI=
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Sharia 101
on: October 17, 2008, 11:49:57 PM
Special Dispatch Series - No. 2085
October 17, 2008 No. 2085
Muslim Brotherhood Website: Jihad Against Non-Muslims Is Obligatory
On a website devoted to Ramadhan, the Muslim Brotherhood posted a series of articles by Dr. Ahmad 'Abd Al-Khaleq about Al-Walaa Wa'l-Baraa, an Islamic doctrine which, in its fundamentalist interpretation, stipulates absolute allegiance to the community of Muslims and total rejection of non-Muslims and of Muslims who have strayed from the path of Islam.
In his articles, the writer argues that according to this principle, a Muslim can come closer to Allah by hating all non-Muslims - Christians, Jews, atheists, or polytheists - and by waging jihad against them in every possible manner.
For full report, visit http://www.memriiwmp.org/content/en/report.htm?report=2877
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors
on: October 16, 2008, 08:26:10 PM
|**What of Samantha Power's plan for Israel? **http://sandbox.blog-city.com/speaking_truth_to_power.htm
Speaking truth to Power
posted Monday, 3 March 2008
Samantha Power is the author of a Pulitzer Prize-winning book on genocide, and she has a professorship at Harvard (in something called "Global Leadership and Public Policy"). She is also a senior foreign policy adviser to Barack Obama. This isn't an honorific: she has worked for Obama in Washington, she has campaigned for him around the country, and she doesn't hesitate to speak for him. This morning, the Washington Post has a piece on Obama's foreign policy team, identifying her (and retired Maj. Gen. Scott Garion) as "closest to Obama, part of a group-within-the-group that he regularly turns to for advice." Power and Garion "retain unlimited access to Obama." This morning's New York Times announces that Power has an "irresistable profile" and "she could very well end up in [Obama's] cabinet."
She also has a problem: a corpus of critical statements about Israel. These have been parsed by Noah Pollak at Commentary's blog Contentions, by Ed Lasky and Richard Baehr at American Thinker, and by Paul Mirengoff at Power Line.
Power made her most problematic statement in 2002, in an interview she gave at Berkeley. The interviewer asked her this question:
Let me give you a thought experiment here, and it is the following: without addressing the Palestine-Israel problem, let’s say you were an advisor to the President of the United States, how would you respond to current events there? Would you advise him to put a structure in place to monitor that situation, at least if one party or another [starts] looking like they might be moving toward genocide?
Power gave an astonishing answer:
What we don’t need is some kind of early warning mechanism there, what we need is a willingness to put something on the line in helping the situation. Putting something on the line might mean alienating a domestic constituency of tremendous political and financial import; it may more crucially mean sacrificing—or investing, I think, more than sacrificing—billions of dollars, not in servicing Israel’s military, but actually investing in the new state of Palestine, in investing the billions of dollars it would probably take, also, to support what will have to be a mammoth protection force, not of the old Rwanda kind, but a meaningful military presence. Because it seems to me at this stage (and this is true of actual genocides as well, and not just major human rights abuses, which were seen there), you have to go in as if you’re serious, you have to put something on the line.
Unfortunately, imposition of a solution on unwilling parties is dreadful. It’s a terrible thing to do, it’s fundamentally undemocratic. But, sadly, we don’t just have a democracy here either, we have a liberal democracy. There are certain sets of principles that guide our policy, or that are meant to, anyway. It’s essential that some set of principles becomes the benchmark, rather than a deference to [leaders] who are fundamentally politically destined to destroy the lives of their own people. And by that I mean what Tom Friedman has called “Sharafat” [Sharon-Arafat]. I do think in that sense, both political leaders have been dreadfully irresponsible. And, unfortunately, it does require external intervention.... Any intervention is going to come under fierce criticism. But we have to think about lesser evils, especially when the human stakes are becoming ever more pronounced.
It isn't too difficult to see all the red flags in this answer. Having placed Israel's leader on par with Yasser Arafat, she called for massive military intervention on behalf of the Palestinians, to impose a solution in defiance of Israel and its American supporters. Billions of dollars would be shifted from Israel's security to the upkeep of a "mammoth protection force" and a Palestinian state—all in the name of our "principles."
This quote has dogged Power, and she has gone to extraordinary lengths to put it behind her. Most notably, she called in the Washington correspondent of the Israeli daily Haaretz, Shmuel Rosner, to whom she disavowed the quote:
Power herself recognizes that the statement is problematic. "Even I don't understand it," she says. And also: "This makes no sense to me." And furthermore: "The quote seems so weird." She thinks that she made this statement in the context of discussing the deployment of international peacekeepers. But this was a very long time ago, circumstances were different, and it's hard for her to reconstruct exactly what she meant.
It must be awful, at such a young age, to lose track of why you recommended the massive deployment of military force, and not that long ago. So let me help Samantha Power: I can reconstruct exactly what she meant.
Power gave the interview on April 29, 2002. This was the tail end of Israel's Operation Defensive Shield, Israel's offensive into the West Bank in reaction to a relentless campaign of Palestinian suicide bombings that had killed Israeli civilians in the hundreds. The military operation included the clearing of terrorists from the West Bank city of Jenin (April 3-19). At the time, Palestinian spokespersons had duped much of the international media and human rights community into believing that a massacre of innocent Palestinians had taken place in Jenin. It had not, but the name of Israel had been smeared, particularly in academe. At Harvard, pro-Palestinian activists canvassed the faculty for support of a petition calling on Harvard to divest from Israel. (It was published on May 6.)
Power at the time was executive director of Harvard's Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, which she founded in 1999. In 2001, she had recruited a celebrity director for the Carr Center: Michael Ignatieff, a Canadian intellectual and journalist who, like herself, had come to prominence writing about atrocities in the Balkans and Africa. A profile of Ignatieff in March 2002 described the division of labor in the Carr Center: "He shares administrative responsibilities with Samantha Power, the center's executive director. The division of labor works wonderfully, he says: 'She does all the work.'" Power later told a Canadian journalist that "their social relationship was based on three Bs: baseball, bottles and boys. They talked about the Boston Red Sox, of whom she is a fanatic supporter; they spent evenings together 'yelling and laughing' over bottles of wine, and she found him a kind and sympathetic confidant when it came to affairs of the heart."
The Carr Center under this management team generally steered clear of the Middle East. But in that spring of 2002, the pressure to come up with something was very great. Ignatieff, who had been to the Middle East a few times, took the lead. On April 19, 2002, only ten days before Power emitted her "weird" quote, Ignatieff published an op-ed in the London Guardian, under this headline: "Why Bush Must Send in His Troops." I wrote a thorough critique of this piece over five years ago, so I won't repeat my dissection of its flaws. As I showed then, the op-ed includes every trendy calumny against Israel.
More relevant now are Ignatieff's policy conclusions. "Neither side is capable of making peace," he determined, "or even sitting in the same room to discuss it." The United States should therefore move "to impose a two-state solution now."
The time for endless negotiation between the parties is past: it is time to say that all but those settlements right on the 1967 green line must go; that the right of return is incompatible with peace and security in the region and the right must be extinguished with a cash settlement; that the UN, with funding from Europe, will establish a transitional administration to help the Palestinian state back on its feet and then prepare the ground for new elections before exiting; and, most of all, the US must then commit its own troops, and those of willing allies, not to police a ceasefire, but to enforce the solution that provides security for both populations.
Ignatieff ended with a grand flourish:
Imposing a peace of this amplitude on both parties, and committing the troops to back it up, would be the most dramatic exercise of presidential leadership since the Cuban missile crisis. Nothing less dramatic than this will prevent the Middle East from descending into an inferno.
So this was the thrilling idea that swept the Carr Center that April: a "dramatic exercise of presidential leadership," through a commitment of U.S. troops to impose and enforce a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Middle East would be saved. The "amplitude" of this notion made divestment seem small-minded. Samantha Power did not misspeak ten days later in her Berkeley interview. She was retailing a vision she shared with her closest colleague. Power went a bit further than Ignatieff, when she spoke about how this show of presidential courage "might mean alienating a domestic constituency of tremendous political and financial import." Ignatieff would never have written that. But it was implicit in his text anyway.
So Ignatieff's op-ed was exactly what Power meant. That she should claim no recollection of any of this context seems... weird. Or perhaps not. Remember, Ignatieff wasn't talking about deploying "international peacekeepers," the context Power now suggests for her words. He specifically proposed United States troops, followed by anyone else who was "willing." Their job wouldn't be to keep the peace, but to "enforce the solution." Far better today for Power to have some kind of blackout, than to tell the truth about the "dramatic exercise" she and Ignatieff envisioned.
("Iggy," by the way, left Harvard in 2005 to plunge into Canadian politics, and he is now deputy leader of Canada's opposition Liberal Party. He still has strong views on what Americans should do. "I've worn my heart on my sleeve for a year," he recently announced. "I'm for Obama.")
Is there a conclusion to be drawn from this genealogy of a truly bad policy idea? Ignatieff himself may have hit on it. Last year he published a reflection on what he'd learned since experiencing real (as opposed to academic) politics. "As a former denizen of Harvard," he wrote, "I’ve had to learn that a sense of reality doesn’t always flourish in elite institutions. It is the street virtue par excellence. Bus drivers can display a shrewder grasp of what’s what than Nobel Prize winners."
Just substitute Pulitzer for Nobel
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors
on: October 15, 2008, 06:20:12 PM
This fifteenth-century-like hatred and prejudice is infuriating and frustrating for Jewish leadership. It is also endless. Egyptian television just finished airing a 41-part series based on the decades-old screed called Protocols of the Elders of Zion. “It was as anti-Semitic as anything you’ve ever seen,” says Zuckerman.
Making and airing a series like the Protocols is, of course, part of an orchestrated strategy by Arab dictators determined to stay in power. “Mubarak and the others try to distract their populations with hostility towards Israel and the Jews,” says Zuckerman. “You simply can’t believe the things they write in the Arab press. We confront them, but what can you do about that?”
Similarly, the outrageous, flamboyantly anti-Israel behavior of the United Nations has routinely dumbfounded Jewish leaders. In recent weeks, the U.N. has condemned Israel for building a fence to keep out suicide bombers and for destroying three empty buildings in Gaza.
“Israel is held to a different standard,” says Zuckerman. “It is not allowed to live like other members of the family of nations any more than individual Jews were allowed to live like everyone else in their individual countries.”
Aside from the occasional specious accusation from the likes of Pat Buchanan, the Jean-Marie Le Pen of America, that Jews are responsible for the war in Iraq, the battle here is being fought mostly on college campuses.
Natan Sharansky, the former Soviet dissident who is Israel’s minister for Jerusalem and diaspora affairs, completed a thirteen-college speaking tour here several weeks ago. He wrote an account of his extraordinary road trip for an Israeli newspaper in which he described being welcomed by robust anti-Israel demonstrations, bomb threats, and pro-Palestinian protesters with signs reading RACIST ISRAEL and WAR CRIMINALS. He was even hit in the face with a pie thrown by a Jewish student screaming, “End the occupation.” But the most discouraging moments were surely those he spent talking to some Jewish grad students at Harvard. They told Sharansky the atmosphere on campus is so overwhelmingly anti-Israel that they’re afraid to speak out in support of the Jewish state. They don’t want to be identified as pro-Israel because they fear being ostracized and having their grades affected.
Alan Dershowitz, who is a professor at Harvard Law School, argues that Sharansky overstated the problem. But listen carefully to how he characterizes it: “We are not losing so badly on the campuses today.”
But he believes it is critical that students know all the facts of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict—not just the version put out by the left. “Remember,” he says, “the goal of the campus divestiture movement is not divestiture but to miseducate an entire generation of students so that in fifteen or twenty years, the leaders of America will be like the leaders of France.”
One thing is clear. The traditional means of battling anti-Semitism are as dated as the rules of conflict that once protected humanitarian organizations like the Red Cross and the United Nations from attack. “The old bag of tricks may work for your donors and for your own self-image as tough guys fighting back,” says David Harris. “But if the bottom line is, are you changing attitudes? Are you reversing images and stereotypes in Europe and the Muslim world? If that’s the measuring stick, then it’s very hard to say any of the organizations have been particularly effective.”
Part of the problem was the element of surprise. Everyone was caught totally off guard by the wave of hostility that spread across Europe. Foxman argues that the ADL never let down its guard either in America or in Europe, but there was a complacency that had settled over Jews. Perhaps it was what some call the golden age of the nineties, when the Israelis and Palestinians, guided by the Oslo accords, appeared headed toward an agreement.
Whatever it was, Foxman says he regularly got into arguments with people telling him it was time for the ADL to close its doors. “ ‘Stop counting swastikas in bathrooms,’ ” he says people told him. “ ‘The threat is assimilation, not anti-Semitism. We should be spending the money on Jewish education.’ ”
The miasma of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism that has settled over much of the world had its genesis at the Camp David–Taba peace talks almost three and a half years ago. Never had the two sides been so close to making a deal on a two-state solution. The deal, which many on both sides never thought they would see, was there for the signing.
Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak offered Yasser Arafat and the Palestinians a state on 97 percent of the occupied territories with most of East Jerusalem as its capital. The offer included Palestinian sovereignty over the Temple Mount and $30 billion in compensation for the refugees. Short of removing the state of Israel from the Middle East entirely, the offer was everything the Palestinians had been asking for.
In an interview with reporter Elsa Walsh, Saudi Arabia’s Prince Bandar said he told Arafat that if he didn’t make the deal, it would be a “crime against the Palestinians.” Of course, Arafat not only didn’t make the deal, he walked out of the meeting, got on a plane, and left. No negotiating, no stalling, no attempts to massage the offer. Nothing. He never even made a counterproposal.
Initially, Arafat’s recalcitrance looked like not only a crime against the Palestinian people but a huge public-relations blunder as well. In the U.S., in Europe, and even behind closed doors in the Muslim world, people were quickly turning against him. Slowly, however, a revisionist movement began. A second story line, pushed by people like Clinton aide Robert Malley, emerged. This narrative, prominently promoted in a controversial front-page New York Times article, said the offer wasn’t all it appeared to be. And in any event, there were many reasons Arafat simply could not make the deal: It robbed him of his dignity as a Muslim man because peace was offered not won; it required signing an end-of-conflict clause, which meant the Palestinians would have to give up their dream of all the land.
In addition, the revisionists claimed, negotiations went too fast, Arafat was surprised by the offer, he needed more time, he needed more assurances of cover from the other Arab leaders, and on it went. As chief American negotiator Dennis Ross said, in the final analysis, Arafat couldn’t sign any agreement because “to end the conflict is to end himself.”
“Arafat may have believed the moment had come when he could break Israel,” says Leonard Fein. “And it’s not clear he was wrong. After he walked out at Camp David, he was offered a much better deal at Taba.”
Fein is shocked that after all that has happened since then, a third of Israelis say they approve of the Geneva Accords, the peace agreement worked out by Yossi Beilin and Yasser Abed Rabbo. Since neither man holds an official position, the deal, which appears to be even sweeter than the one offered by Ehud Barak at Taba, is theoretical.
“But if I were Arafat,” Fein says, “I’d be breaking out the champagne.”
Shockingly, after Arafat walked out of the negotiations three years ago, he was able to turn world opinion 180 degrees almost overnight by restarting the violence. He revved up the second intifada, and the savagery continues on both sides. But strategically it was a very clever move. He knew he could provoke the Israelis to overreact, and that’s exactly what happened.
Now there were horrific visuals of Israeli soldiers bulldozing houses, shooting at crowds, and generally manhandling and mistreating Palestinians, broadcast round the clock on television all over the Arab world. Prince Bandar said that even though he and Crown Prince Abdullah knew intellectually that the violence was Arafat’s fault, they couldn’t ignore the television images.
The American Jewish Committee’s David Harris was living in Europe at the time, and he remembers how the Palestinian narrative began to take hold. “A kind of quick collective amnesia set in among the Europeans, and at times I felt like I was having an out-of-body experience. The people I discussed the issue with largely dismissed, ignored, or relativized the Israeli side of the story.”
Harris believes that embracing the Palestinian story line enabled the Europeans to avoiding facing some difficult questions. Had it been a mistake to support Arafat all along? Why had they been funding Palestinian Authority institutions, including schools that continue to dehumanize Jews and continue to use textbooks and maps that picture a world with no Israel?
Many believe that taking the Palestinian side after Arafat blew up the peace process even provided the Europeans a kind of expiation of their collective Holocaust guilt. According to this view, Israeli violence enabled the Europeans to say, “Look, you are an occupying, colonialist state engaging in war crimes. You no longer have the moral high ground.”
Finally, bashing the Israelis enabled the various governments to try to curry favor with their alienated Muslim populations. “The whole thing just kept spiraling,” Harris says. “And very quickly the story line was this: Israeli violence was unjustified, and therefore they were actually responsible for the Palestinian violence unleashed on them.”
The overarching question is, what to do now? What is the best strategy to deal with the groundswell of hate? Can things be turned around? Paraphrasing Jonathan Swift, Zuckerman says, “You cannot reason people out of what they have not been reasoned into.”
In the Muslim world, the traditional model used by Jewish organizations to fight anti-Semitism is useless. It requires working from the inside by finding sympathetic, like-minded leaders willing to form an alliance for the greater good.
“There are a few ecumenically minded Islamic leaders,” says Harris. “But they’re in the minority, and with only a very few exceptions they tend to be afraid of becoming too public. So without a critical mass of Muslim partners, the best we can do is blow the whistle, shine the spotlight, and urge Western governments to raise the issue.”
In Europe, there are, as bleak as the landscape appears, a few bright spots. French president Jacques Chirac did finally come to the U.S. in September to meet with the leadership of America’s Jewish community; four of his country’s most prominent Jews—David de Rothschild, Ady Steg, Simone Veil, and Roger Cukierman—came with him. Leaders here seem to have mixed emotions about this. I talked to Abe Foxman about the meeting several times, and in our first discussion, he focused on the positive. “He came because he got the message and he cares about what was being said here,” Foxman offered, adding, however, that Chirac waited until long after the national elections in France were over.
“He also came because he believes we have power and influence. It’s the same at the U.N. Even when they’re censuring Israel, leaders of most of the countries are eager to meet with us because they believe in the mythology. They believe the road to Washington is paved through the Jewish community.”
Later, however, Foxman said he was embarrassed for the Jewish leaders the French president brought with him. “It’s not the Middle Ages, where you parade your Jews around and say, ‘See how good everything is?’ ”
Nevertheless, at one of these meetings Roger Cukierman, who is the head of crif, the largest Jewish organization in France, raised a critical issue that most American Jews, at least, are loath to talk about. Cukierman said that the beginning of the anger toward Jews and the explosion of hate in France—which has both the largest Jewish and Muslim populations in Europe—can be pinpointed to September 2000, when Palestinian-Israeli violence restarted in earnest.
Surely it feeds on preexisting anti-Semitism, but there was, J. J. Goldberg says, a new catalyst. “I would argue that it’s not the same anti-Semitism that’s been going on for 2,000 years.”
When Palestinian violence began and Israel sent troops into the West Bank, justifiably or not, it was like putting a match to a dry field, and the fires have been burning out of control ever since.
And the harsh reality is this: Palestinian society is in tatters, the infrastructure has been wrecked, the economy essentially destroyed, and death for the cause has been romanticized as the highest value. But Palestinians are winning the war of perception, with the war played out on television screens across Europe and the Middle East. They are scoring regular world-opinion-changing victories in the media, successfully romanticizing suicide bombers as heroes.
It is possible even Ariel Sharon has begun to get the message. During a Cabinet meeting on November 30, Gideon Meir, deputy director general of the Foreign Ministry, gave a presentation to Sharon depicting the way Israel is portrayed in the foreign media. “I showed him examples of both distorted coverage and legitimate pictures of bad Israeli behavior,” Meir says, pointing out that the prime minister was appalled by both. “I would not say that everything is anti-Semitism, but these images go a long way towards inflaming hatred of the Jews.”
But of course it’s not just about the media coverage. “Anti-Semitism is being spread through those who teach Islam, and it’s metastasizing,” says Orthodox feminist Blu Greenberg. “It took Christianity 2,000 years to clean up its act and now it’s being taught again through a religious system. I’m frightened for my grandchildren.”
Most American Jewish leaders believe they are up against huge forces around the world and that ultimately they cannot fight this fight alone. “We have to make people understand that anti-Semitism is not a uniquely Jewish problem,” says Harris. “It’s a cancer which left unchecked infects and ultimately kills democratic societies,” he says. “That’s the message we have to get out.”
Find this article at: http://www.nymag.com/nymetro/news/religion/features/n_9622
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors
on: October 15, 2008, 06:19:09 PM
The Return of Anti-Semitism
Israel has become the flash point—and the excuse—for a global explosion of an age-old syndrome. Why has hating the Jews become politically correct in many places? And what can be done about it?
By Craig Horowitz
Published Dec 8, 2003
On the second floor of the plaza hotel, in a gaudy meeting room with lots of gold-painted wall filigree and faux-Baroque details, about 400 representatives of the Anti-Defamation League from around the country gathered one recent morning for the group’s 90th-anniversary conference.
As they settled in for a sober two-day program reflecting the grim situation Jews find themselves in (speakers included John Ashcroft, Thomas Friedman, and Israel’s ambassador to the U.N.), ADL national director Abraham Foxman rose to give the opening address.
Foxman, a professional noodge who has been sounding the alarm for more than three decades whenever he senses the slightest whiff of anti-Semitism—his new book is Never Again? The Threat of the New Anti-Semitism—began slowly, talking in an almost melancholy tone about his grandchildren and the uncertain future they face as Jews. But Foxman, who was sheltered during the Holocaust by his Christian nanny, quickly gained momentum and urgency, cataloguing stark examples of what he called “the world’s growing crescendo of irrationality.”
He invoked the shattered glass of Kristallnacht and mentioned Hitler several times, allusions that surely found their target with the mostly middle-aged-and-older crowd. As he has been doing for more than a year now, he described the threat to the safety and security of the Jewish people as being “as great, if not greater, than what we faced in the thirties.”
It was Foxman at his best: passionate, indignant, and connecting naturally with other Jews. His fears are their fears. His hopes for the future are their hopes. The speech clearly resonated with the audience.
But there was one small problem. The centerpiece of the speech, its theme, was misleading. There’s no question these are troubled times. But the notion that Jews in 2003 ought to use the Holocaust as a kind of lens to help them see their current predicament more clearly is, to say the least, problematic. The analogy no longer holds.
“Comparing what’s going on today to the thirties is both wrong and dangerous,” says Alan Dershowitz, who also has a new book, The Case for Israel, which is practically a point-by-point guide for responding to the Jewish state’s critics. “The old labels don’t apply, and the old diagnoses don’t address the problem. They substitute emotion for reason, and we can’t win this war with emotion. We need to look forward. We need to start thinking about the 2030s, not the 1930s.”
The war to which Dershowitz is referring is the global explosion of hate and hostility directed at Israel and at Jews themselves. For the past eighteen months or so, members of the Jewish community—intellectuals, activists, heads of various organizations, and laypeople—have been struggling desperately to find an effective strategy to address the new reality.
It’s been slow going. “The organized Jewish community has just not reacted strongly enough,” says Morton Klein, head of the Zionist Organization of America.
Part of the reason for this is that they are facing a new problem, an enemy they haven’t seen before. The stunning result of the burgeoning anti-Israel, anti-Zionist emotion is a kind of politically correct anti-Semitism. Foxman’s analogy to the thirties is right in this respect: It is once again acceptable in polite society, particularly among people with left-of-center political views, to freely express anti-Jewish feelings. What only two or three years ago would have been considered hateful, naked bigotry is now a legitimate political position.
The new p.c. anti-Semitism mixes traditional blame-the-Jews boilerplate with a fevered opposition to Israel. In this worldview, the “Zionist entity” has no legitimacy and as a result no right to do what other nations do, like protect itself and its citizens. It is true that immediately labeling someone anti-Semitic because he criticizes Israel is a long-standing, often bogus tactic that has been used by Jews to stymie debate. The new anti-Semitism, however, is in some sense the inverse problem, with criticism of Israel being a kind of Trojan horse in which age-old anti-Semitic feelings are concealed.
“Israel has become the Jew among nations,” says Mort Zuckerman, who in addition to his media holdings is the former chairman of the Council of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. “It is both the surrogate—the respectable way of expressing anti-Semitism—and the collective Jew.”
The irony here is that Israel, which was supposed to be the solution to centuries of anti-Semitism, is providing a flash point and a kind of cover for p.c. anti-Semitism. Recently, The Forward, the savvy weekly newspaper that focuses on Jewish life here and abroad, published its annual list of the 50 most influential American Jews. In its introduction, in a dramatic public expression of the thing that’s on every Jew’s mind, the paper explained that this year’s list is dominated by people shaping the debate over the most critical question of the day: “Why has the world turned against us, and what is to be done about it?”
For most Jews, certainly those tied to the common-sense-based, moderate political middle, the momentum change is disorienting. How could this have happened when they believed so strongly in all the right things, like ending the occupation and dismantling the settlements? Fair-minded and compassionate, they regularly expressed concern for Palestinian suffering, and they cheered when Ehud Barak made an offer that appeared to finally clinch a peaceful two-state solution.
But when Yasser Arafat walked away from the peace talks and triggered the incomprehensible wave of suicide bombings, events took a very strange turn. First, the violence guaranteed the election of Ariel Sharon. I was in Jerusalem during election week in 2001, and the city was covered with bumper stickers and signs that read ONLY SHARON WILL KEEP US SAFE. The intifada also decimated Israel’s left. Jews everywhere wanted something done. Enough was enough. They wanted a show of force, and they got it.
American Jews felt adrift at first, then angry, as if they’d been betrayed. If their hearts were in the right place, why hadn’t the results been better?
But after a little more than three years, it’s clear the use of force hasn’t worked either. Palestinian violence hasn’t stopped. And the Sharon government’s hard line has generated runaway sympathy for the Palestinians and at least an equal amount of hostility toward the Israelis. Suddenly, Jews find themselves less and less able to claim the moral high ground as they are now cast as the villains in the conflict. No matter what Israel does—negotiate, fight, put up a fence—it only seems to make things worse.
“I feel sick to my stomach,” says writer and activist Leonard Fein. “I go to meetings where despondence is thick on the table. I also feel scared because Israel is rudderless.”
In the classic, angst-laden, self-absorbed, you-shouldn’t-know-from-it comedic tradition of everyone from Lenny Bruce to Larry David, it is a difficult time to be Jewish. Only now it isn’t funny. “Many people in the Jewish community, especially liberals, don’t know what to think,” says J. J. Goldberg, editor-in-chief of The Forward. “They feel powerless. They see their hopes and dreams, indeed their world, in flames, and they don’t have any idea what to do about it.”
One critical issue is how much of the resurgent anti-Semitism is the result of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.
Billionaire George Soros infuriated many in the Jewish community a couple of weeks ago when he was quoted by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency blaming the policies of George Bush and Ariel Sharon for the rise in anti-Semitism. But he is certainly not alone in this view, even among Jews.
“I have no doubt that the occupation and our policies in dealing with the Palestinians are an integral part of the return of anti-Semitism,” says Zeev Sternhell, a political-science professor at Hebrew University in Jerusalem who specializes in anti-Semitism.
Most Jewish leaders, however, instinctively respond that blaming Israel is blaming the victim. “It’s not about this or that Israeli policy,” says Malcolm Hoenlein, head of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, a mix of anger and exasperation in his voice. “It’s about Israel’s right to exist.”
Indeed, public opinion has swung so far to the Palestinian side that for the first time in decades, the very legitimacy of a Jewish state has been widely called into question. Columnists in mainstream European newspapers like the Guardian in England and Le Monde in France regularly challenge the validity of Israel and of Zionism.
Even here, serious (albeit leftist) publications like The New York Review of Books have published pieces attempting to revive the notion of a one-state solution. In this scenario, all of Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza would become a binational Jewish and Palestinian state, which would, by virtue of the population figures, become a Palestinian state with a Jewish minority in a very short time.
The language of the debate has become so polarized, so grotesquely distorted—words like genocide, apartheid, and fascism are used regularly—that legitimate criticism of Israel is near-impossible to hear.
This is unfortunate, because within Israel and in the diaspora there continues to be disagreement over policy. Sharon remains a divisive figure even at home, where Israelis have begun to tire of his hard line with the Palestinians. Recently, for example, Moshe Ya’alon, the Israeli Army’s chief of staff, said that the continuing military pressure on the Palestinians was fueling hatred of Israel. He called for gestures to ease Palestinian hardship and for Israeli leadership to do a better job of trying to work with Palestinian prime minister Ahmed Qureia than it did with his predecessor.
In a piece written for the Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot and reprinted in The Forward, Avraham Burg, former speaker of Israel’s Knesset and currently a Labor Party Knesset member, lamented, “We were supposed to be a light unto the nations. In this we have failed.”
Even more strikingly, Burg writes later in the piece: “Israel, having ceased to care about the children of the Palestinians, should not be surprised when they come washed in hatred and blow themselves up in the centers of Israeli escapism. They consign themselves to Allah in our places of recreation, because their own lives are torture. They spill their own blood in our restaurants in order to ruin our appetites, because they have children and parents at home who are hungry.”
In the churning swirl of anti-Israel hostility, some of the most powerful World War II imagery has been excruciatingly (for anyone who suffered during the war) co-opted: Israelis have become Nazis committing genocide against the Palestinians. Ariel Sharon is the modern incarnation of Hitler, the Israeli army is the Wehrmacht, or, worse, the SS, and Ramallah and Jenin are Auschwitz and Buchenwald.
The Israelis are racists, imperialists, colonialists. And the suicide bombers, the murderers who pack bombs with nails and razor blades to cause the maximum civilian carnage, are freedom fighters, objects of sympathy and (in some quarters) even admiration, as long as the innocent people they’re killing are Jewish. (Even Avraham Burg’s emotional plea runs the risk of sounding like an apologia for the murderers.)
Israel, the democracy with a freely elected government; Arab representatives in the Knesset; a thriving, often hysterical free press; and a citizenry that is still, after all that’s happened, overwhelmingly in favor of a negotiated two-state solution (two thirds of Israelis are believed to support a two-state solution), is the object of hate, scorn, and revulsion among the left everywhere in the world.
Even in America. At a crisis center called San Francisco Women Against Rape, volunteers are asked to fill out a three-page application. Most of it is what you’d expect, a request for basic personal information and an introduction that says the center is seeking compassionate women who want to support survivors of sexual assault.
But on the last page, the application states that the center believes “it is important to be informed and take action on other social justice struggles.” One of these struggles is “supporting the Palestinian liberation and taking a stance against Zionism. Can you commit to this?”
Since the implosion of peace talks about three years ago, France, England, Germany, Italy, Poland, Greece, and the rest of Europe have all seen a bone-chilling rise in expressions of anti-Semitism. European synagogues are bombed, Jewish schools are torched, and physical attacks on individuals readily identifiable as Jews have become shockingly routine.
In a recent European Union poll, 60 percent of the respondents chose Israel as the country that poses the greatest threat to world peace. In the Netherlands, of all places, where Jewish citizens were steadfastly protected during World War II, 74 percent of the Dutch fingered Israel.
Belgium wanted to try Ariel Sharon for war crimes committed at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Lebanon. An Oxford professor would not allow an Israeli student in his class because the man had served in the Israeli Army. In Italy, La Stampa ran a front-page cartoon depicting an Israeli tank with its huge gun pointed right at the baby Jesus. The caption read, “Surely they don’t want to kill me again.”
“The Jewish communities of Europe are seen by the public,” says David Harris, head of the American Jewish Committee, “as extensions of and advocates for a regime in Israel that is rapidly losing its legitimacy in the eyes of the intelligentsia, the media, the left, and the anti-globalization crowd. So the question really becomes, how do you fight anti-Semitism in France or Belgium if the image of their Jewish citizens is inextricably linked to Israel? You either change the image or break the link. And there’s no easy answer for doing either.”
Two key factors in the virulent outbreak of anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism in Europe may be fatigue and fear. People are tired of the Middle East conflict. They’re burned out on the suffering, the killing, and the blood-soaked barrage of bad news. They are also worried about terrorism. Most Western European countries have growing, restive Muslim populations that are having trouble assimilating. Yet they are gaining political power. France has more than 6 million Muslims, and it is no accident that President Jacques Chirac began to crack down on anti-Semitism only after national elections last summer.
Feelings of fatigue and fear were candidly expressed by Daniel Bernard, the French ambassador to England, when he thought he was speaking off the record at a London dinner party in December 2001. He remarked that the world’s current troubles are all because of “that shitty little country Israel.” Undoubtedly expressing the view of many, he asked, “Why should we be in danger of World War III because of these people?”
The problem in Europe seems destined only to get worse over the next several years. “Europe has both an aging population and a low birthrate,” says Mort Zuckerman. “So they need immigration, and Muslims are the primary group coming in.”
In the Muslim world, where anti-Israel and anti-Jewish extremism are hardly news, the speech by outgoing Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad broke new ground. Not since Hitler has a head of state had the gall to take off the rhetorical gloves with such zeal. Addressing the 57 member nations of the Organization of the Islamic Conference—a group where the sole membership requirement is religion—he called on the world’s 1.3 billion Muslims to defeat the Jews.
“The Europeans killed 6 million Jews out of 12 million, but today the Jews rule the world by proxy. They get others to fight and die for them,” he said. The Jews, he continued, “invented socialism, communism, human rights, and democracy so that persecuting them would appear to be wrong, so that they can enjoy equal rights with others.”
It is one thing that the leaders of all 57 states gave Mahathir a standing ovation—including those from supposedly moderate states like Egypt and Jordan—but their reactions later, after they had had time to consider what he said, were stunning.
The Egyptian foreign minister said the speech was “a very, very wise assessment.” After making it clear he agreed with everything Mahathir said, Yemen’s foreign minister decided to pile on: “Israelis and Jews control most of the economy and the media in the world.”
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors
on: October 15, 2008, 05:46:35 PM
Posted March 23, 2004 - http://www.csmonitor.com/2004/0323/p25s01-coop.html
An anti-Semitic left hook
By Patrick Chisholm | csmonitor.com
WASHINGTON - Anti-Semitism traditionally has been associated with the extreme right. Now, it is becoming more common among the extreme left.
Leftist president Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe huffed that "Jews in South Africa, working in cahoots with their colleagues here, want our textile and clothing factories to close down." Former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who is no right-winger, lashed out against Jews who "rule the world by proxy." One finds pockets of anti-Semitism at anti-globalization rallies, and plenty of it at pro-Palestinian rallies. And in recent years anti-capitalist campaigners have been networking with radical Islamists and neo-Nazi groups via their websites, according to a draft report by the Technical University of Berlin's Center for Research on Anti-Semitism. (This was the same report commissioned by the European Union, which decided for who-knows-what-reason not to officially release it.)
Contrary to what one would think, left- and right-wing extremists are, in major respects, ideological soul mates. Don't be fooled by labels; applying the simplistic terms of "right" and "left" to complex political realities naturally begets confusion.
While ultra-rightists are generally thought of as racist and ultra-leftists as nonracist, the latter are by no means immune to such decrepitude.
And both camps share these core attitudes: a readiness to buy into conspiracy theories, hatred of the rich, contempt for speculators and financiers, a deep suspicion of large corporate enterprises, and a conviction that the privileged few oppress the masses.
These notions manifest themselves in the party platforms of radical groups. Here are excerpts from one such platform (courtesy of Australian writer John J. Ray):
• We demand that all unearned income, and all income that does not arise from work, be abolished.
• We demand the nationalization of businesses which have been organized into cartels.
• We demand the creation and maintenance of a healthy middle-class, the immediate communalization of department stores which will be rented cheaply to small businessmen....
• We demand a land reform in accordance with our national requirements, and the enactment of a law to confiscate from the owners without compensation any land needed for the common purpose. The abolition of ground rents, and the prohibition of all speculation in land.
And here is a quote from one such leader:
"We are socialists, we are enemies of today's capitalistic economic system for the exploitation of the economically weak, with its unfair salaries, with its unseemly evaluation of a human being according to wealth and property instead of responsibility and performance, and we are all determined to destroy this system under all conditions."
Karl Marx? No. Vladimir Lenin? No. Ho Chi Min? No.
Adolf Hitler. And the above platform positions were those of his National Socialist party. Note the formal name of that party: the National Socialist German Workers Party.
The far left scapegoats rich people for causing the world's ills. But what if you live in a society where most rich people happen to be members of a different religion or skin color? That makes them particularly easy to recognize and identify. In the popular psyche, the wealthy class becomes synonymous with members of that minority group. So if you're an envy-laden, paranoid conspiracy theorist, there's hardly a distinction between scapegoating the rich and scapegoating the minority group.
That's how the Nazis viewed the Jews. It's how Stalinist Russia viewed the Jews. It's how Islamic militants view the Jews. And it's how many among today's far left view the Jews.
Jews are by no means the only (relatively) affluent minority group that has suffered mass slaughter. The same has been true of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire (present-day Turkey), Tutsis in Rwanda, Tamils in Sri Lanka, ethnic Chinese in Indonesia, and many others.
Palestinian hatred of Israelis, I suspect, is based on more than just land disputes and the policies of the state of Israel. Much of it likely derives from envy. Jews as a whole are among the most able, hard-working, and intelligent people ever to inhabit the earth. Wherever they go they succeed. They turned Israel into an economic powerhouse for its size, and "made the desert bloom." Success breeds envy. Envy breeds hatred.
Terrorism is the end result. So is an envy-driven economic philosophy best described as hard-left or socialist: Islamic radicals generally advocate government ownership of most sectors of the economy. They detest "middlemen" and the rich. They loathe "foreign exploiters." They're disgusted with materialism and consumerism. And they desire complete economic equality among all citizens (which, in practice, translates into everyone being equally poor).
Obviously, a mutual dislike for Israel's policies is not the only thing that binds Islamic radicals and ultra-leftists together.
Leftism is generally tolerant of different races and religions. But not always. Extremists are not going to let Jews off the hook just because they happen to be a different religion. When it comes to envy versus tolerance, envy very often wins out.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors
on: October 15, 2008, 05:39:08 PM
The new anti-Semitism: How the Left reversed history to bring Judaism under attack
Last updated at 23:07 06 July 2007
On the side of St George's Town Hall in the East End of London, there's a mural commemorating the Battle of Cable Street in 1936, when tens of thousands of Jews and local trades unionists fought side by side to halt a march by Sir Oswald Mosley's British Union of Fascists.
They poured out of the docks, factories and sweat shops to repel the Blackshirts, who were being given an official police escort. Their banners read: They Shall Not Pass.
By the end of the day, the police were forced to withdraw and Mosley's thugs had been routed. It was a crushing defeat, from which the Far Right never really recovered and was pivotal in preventing the cancer of Fascism and anti-Semitism then sweeping Continental Europe from establishing a meaningful foothold in this country.
In my previous incarnation as a young labour and industrial correspondent, I used to drink in the Britannia pub, in Cable Street, with an old friend, Brian Nicholson, former chairman of the transport workers' union, who lived a couple of doors down.
From the public bar, a few yards across the square from the old Town Hall, I watched with fascination as the mural was being painted. It took 17 years from conception to completion in 1993 and more than once suffered the indignity of being vandalised by moronic Mosley manques in the National Front and the BNP.
A couple of years ago when the BBC approached me to make what they called an 'authored documentary' on any subject about which I felt passionate, I proposed an investigation into modern anti-Semitism to coincide with the 70th anniversary of Cable Street last October.
My thesis was that while the Far Right hasn't gone away, the motive force behind the recent increase in anti-Jewish activity comes from the Fascist Left and the Islamonazis.
It was an idea which vanished into the bowels of the commissioning process, never to return. Eventually the Beeb told me that they weren't making any more 'authored documentaries'.
I couldn't help wondering what might have happened if I'd put forward a programme on 'Islamophobia'. It would probably have become a six-part, primetime series and I'd have been up for a BAFTA by now.
But I persevered and Channel 4 picked up the project. You can see the results on Monday night.
When some people heard I was making the programme, their first reaction was: 'I didn't know you were Jewish.'
I'm not, but what's that got to do with the price of gefilte fish? They simply couldn't comprehend why a non-Jew would be in the slightest bit interested in investigating anti-Semitism.
If I had been making a film about Islamophobia, no one would have asked me if I was Muslim.
The Labour MP John Mann told me that he experienced exactly the same reaction when he instigated a parliamentary inquiry into anti-Semitism.
'As soon as I set it up, the first MP who commented to me said: "Oh, I didn't know you were Jewish, John."' He isn't, either.
But the implication was plainly that the very idea of anti-Semitism is the invention of some vast Jewish conspiracy.
Mann's inquiry reported: 'It is clear that violence, desecration and intimidation directed towards Jews is on the rise. Jews have become more anxious and more vulnerable to attack than at any time for a generation or longer.'
That certainly bears out my own findings. After three months filming across Britain, I reached the conclusion: It's open season on the Jews.
Scroll down for more ...
Ever since 9/11 I've detected an increase in anxiety among Jewish friends and neighbours in my part of North London. As I've always argued: just because you're paranoid, it doesn't mean they're not out to get you.
When I went to address a ladies' charity lunch at a synagogue in Finchley, I was astonished at the level of security. You don't expect to see bouncers in black bomber jackets on the door at a place of worship.
I soon discovered this wasn't unusual. Nor is it confined to London. The Chief Constable of Greater Manchester, Mike Todd, took me out on patrol with his officers and members of the Community Security Trust, which provides protection for the Jewish community.
These patrols are mounted every Friday night following a series of unprovoked attacks on Jews on their way to synagogue. We passed a care home surrounded by barbed wire.
At the King David School, there are high fences, floodlights, CCTV cameras and fulltime guards. It was the kind of security you associate with a prison.
They're even installing bombproof windows in many prominent Jewish institutions and running evacuation drills.
This sounded to me like Cold War panic. Surely it's all a bit over the top? Far from it, said Todd.
'We know that people carry out hostile reconnaissance. You do know that there will be attacks potentially and so what we're trying to do is make it a hostile environment to those people who want to engage in anti-Semitic attacks.'
In the past two years, Manchester police reported a 20 per cent rise in anti-Semitic incidents. I visited a Jewish cemetery in the north of the city which has been repeatedly desecrated - headstones and graves smashed, swastikas daubed on memorials. It was heartbreaking.
That type of cowardly vandalism is almost certainly the handiwork of Far Right skinheads. But the more serious threat comes from Islamist extremists.
Police and the security services say they have uncovered a series of plots by groups linked to Al Qaeda to attack Jewish targets in Britain.
As Channel 4's own Undercover Mosque documentary exposed earlier this year, anti-Jewish sermons are routinely preached in Britain. Anti-Semitic hatred is beamed in on satellite TV channels and over the internet.
On London's Edgware Road, just around the corner from the Blairs' new Connaught Square retirement home, I was able to buy a copy of Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf, translated into Arabic. It was on open sale alongside the evening paper and the Kit-Kats.
You don't even have to be Jewish to find yourself on the end of anti-Semitic hatred. I met a Jack the Ripper tour guide in East London who was beaten up by a group of Muslim youths, who took one look at his period costume - long black coat and black hat - and assumed he was an Orthodox Jew and therefore deserving of a kicking. They didn't want 'dirty Jews' in 'their' neighbourhood.
During the 2005 General Election, anti-war activists targeted Labour MPs who supported the invasion of Iraq. Fair enough, that's a legitimate enough ambition in a democracy.
But in the case of Lorna Fitzsimons, the member for Rochdale, the campaign to unseat her took a sinister turn.
An outfit calling itself The Muslim Public Affairs Committee (MPAC) - basically two brothers above a kebab shop - published leaflets 'accusing' her of being Jewish, even though she's not.
'They said I was part of the world neo-Con Zionist conspiracy. I think it's deeply insidious and worrying that they felt there was so much anti-Semitism in the local community that it would galvanise the vote.' In the event, she lost her seat by a few hundred votes and is certain the MPAC smear campaign swung it.
Opposition to the war and loathing of Israel has led the selfstyled 'anti-racist' Left to make common cause with Islamonazis. And 'anti-Zionism' soon tips over into straight- forward anti-Semitism.
When The Observer columnist Nick Cohen - who has always considered himself of the Left and, despite the surname, isn't Jewish either - wrote a piece defending the toppling of Saddam he was deluged with hate mail.
'It was amazing anti-Semitism, you know - you're only saying this because you're a Jew.'
Cohen has also noticed the casual anti-Jewish sentiment around Left-wing dinner tables and in the salons of Islington.
He is appalled by the way in which his old comrades-in-arms have embraced terrorist groups like Hezbollah, one of the most anti-Semitic organisations on Earth.
Check out the way the National Union of Journalists singles out Israel for boycott, even though it has the only free press in the Middle East. Or the academic boycott of Israel by the university lecturers, which as the lawyer Anthony Julius and the law professor Alan Dershowitz argue, goes way beyond legitimate protest. The sheer ferocity and violence of the arguments is nothing more than naked anti-Semitism.
Under the guise of 'anti-Zionism', anti- Semitism is rife on British university campuses. But still the Government refuses to ban groups such as Hizb ut-Tahir, motto: 'Jews will be killed wherever they can be found.'
Then there is self-proclaimed 'anti-racist' Ken Livingstone, who said to a Jewish reporter, Oliver Finegold, who approached him outside County Hall: 'What did you do before? Were you a German war criminal?'
When Finegold explained that he was Jewish and was deeply offended by the remark, Livingstone compared him to a 'concentration camp guard'.
Attempting to justify himself, Livingstone put on his best Kenneth Williams 'Stop Messing About' voice and protested that he wasn't being anti-Jewish since he was rude about everyone. That was his Get Out Of Jail Free gambit.
Funny how that excuse didn't work for Bernard Manning.
But under the Macpherson code to which Livingstone subscribes, a racist incident is one which anyone perceives as racist - intended victim or onlooker. It's curious how in multi-cultural, diverse, inclusive, anti-racist Britain, the rules don't seem to extend to the Jews. Livingstone would never have dreamed of being that offensive to a Muslim, or Jamaican, journalist.
Any Tory who made similar remarks would have been hounded from office - and Livingstone would have been leading the lynch mob.
Blaming Israel is the last refuge of the anti-Semite. Livingstone insists he's not anti-Jewish, he just opposes the policies of the Israeli government.
So perhaps he can explain what the hell the conflict in the Middle East has to do with calling a Jewish reporter a German war criminal and a concentration camp guard? Where exactly does the Palestinian cause fit into that equation?
'If you have people like the Mayor of London crossing the line, then making a half-apology, and stumbling through that, then it gives a message out to the rest of the community. That is why anti-Semitism is on the rise again - because it's become acceptable,' says John Mann, whose parliamentary inquiry team was shocked at the scale and nature of what it unearthed.
'Every single member of our committee was stunned at some of the things they found out. It wasn't a Britain that they recognised. It's almost as if it's a throwback. We thought these were things we'd seen in the past, and we hoped had gone.'
As A Labour MP he's appalled at the way many on the Left have become almost casually and routinely anti-Semitic. 'We wouldn't have seen this ten or 15 years ago. This idea that in some way there's a conspiracy of Jews running the world goes back to the Elders of the Protocols of Zion (a long since discredited book, though still popular in the Muslim world) in the last century. We've seen this before, and now it's resurgent.'
Seventy years after Cable Street, we've gone full circle. The Left who once stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the Jews against the Blackshirts are now in the vanguard of the new anti-Semitism.
The Britannia has long since closed and the Jewish community has moved on, but the mural remains. The synagogues have been replaced by mosques.
Where the East End was once a hotbed of Far Right extremism, these days it's the stomping ground of George Galloway's Respect Party, a grubby alliance of Islamic extremists and the old Socialist Workers Party - at the heart of the new 'We Are All Hezbollah Now' activism.
While we were shooting the final sequence of next Monday's film in front of the mural, a scruffy-looking bloke wandered out of what used to be the Britannia and now seems to have been turned into some kind of glorified squat.
He recognised me, identified himself as a member of Respect, objected to what I was saying to camera and tried to disrupt us.
Outnumbered, he shuffled away again, shouting. He did not pass.
The Second Battle of Cable Street, it wasn't.
? The War On Britain's Jews? is on Channel 4 on Monday at 8pm.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues
on: October 14, 2008, 11:08:33 PM
And the sense of urgency about crime-fighting, which it is the Compstat mechanism’s supreme accomplishment to institutionalize, has not abated. Early one Wednesday morning in May, a fatal shooting took place in an East Orange apartment—an apparent drug assassination. Borgo had been working on the case since 4 am. The crime dashboard showed that except for the homicide, no crimes had been reported in the city through mid-morning. “It’s a good day in one sense,” Borgo says, “but you can’t have a good day when your one crime is the ugliest one of all. I’m not having a good day; I’m having a terrible day.” He tried to take heart from the overall statistics. The night shift was down 73 percent in crimes that week, compared with the same week last year; the day shift was down 81 percent. And over the last five months, the department was still down one murder from the previous year, even after that morning’s shooting. “We’re going to keep it going by being proactive, but this homicide is a major concern to me,” he agonizes.
Cordero is amazed that the most radical premise of Compstat policing—that the police can lower crime—is still not universally held among top managers. “When I hear from chiefs, ‘Crime results from the economy,’ my response is: ‘And you haven’t retired . . . why?’ ” As for Borgo, he keeps a large graph of the city’s historic crime drop on a wall in the police station to imbue his beat officers with the urgency of their mission. “People were being victimized at an unbelievable rate before,” he says. “If crime was still at 2003 levels, we’d have 14,000 more victims today.”
Other NYPD grads have also had a significant effect on their new cities through the application of Compstat principles, easily outstripping national crime averages. For example, Jane Perlov, a former NYPD deputy chief, brought violence in Raleigh, North Carolina, down 33 percent between 2001 and 2007 by breaking the city up into six police districts and making the district leaders responsible for crime on their watches. John Romero, an NYPD deputy inspector, lowered crime in Lawrence, Massachusetts, over 50 percent from 1999 to 2005 by demanding performance from his commanders and basing strategies on the most up-to-date, accurate information. Timoney, the first NYPD Compstat-era commander to take the reins of another department, reduced homicides in Philadelphia over 25 percent in two years—the first homicide decrease that violent city had seen in 15 years. And Bratton has slashed crime by 34 percent since becoming chief of the LAPD.
An NYPD hire can produce these effects because, as Cordero discovered, Compstat crime analysis and accountability are far from ubiquitous, despite their proven track record. “These were new principles to people here,” says Thomas Belfiore, who took over the Westchester County Department of Public Safety in 2003. “I asked for monthly reports; they were all verbiage. Very little was actually measured.”
Even if some version of Compstat has preceded an NYPD grad, it likely lacks the requisite oomph. “There was a Compstat here before,” observes Edmund Hartnett, the feisty chief of the Yonkers Police Department, “but—how to say this diplomatically?—it was city hall–driven; there was little interaction over strategies and tactics.” Hartnett has posted the funeral card of Compstat’s primary architect, the late Jack Maple, on his wall, so that “the Jackster” will always be watching over him. Maple would presumably be pleased that Hartnett brought crime to a ten-year low in Yonkers during his first year leading the department in 2007. “We weren’t getting crime updates before,” says Sergeant Mike Papaleo, head of Yonkers’s newly energized Street Crimes Unit, which targets guns and violent crime. It could take a couple of weeks for data to trickle down to the field. “Now, because of the information out of Compstat, I can assign my guys to immediately tackle patterns as they emerge.” Commanders like Papaleo also receive news of individual crimes on their BlackBerrys every three hours.
New York City is ringed to its north by Compstat graduates. Nearly all the major jurisdictions in Westchester County—Yonkers, White Plains, Mount Vernon, Rye, and the county itself—are now led by a crime-analysis disciple. In some quarters, this has produced—along with crime drops—an even greater level of the usual resentment against outsiders. One Westchester County chief asked another, who had been brought in from New York: “Why is the NYPD always getting these jobs? They should be our jobs.” Keeping NYPD memorabilia in one’s office to a minimum is advisable, the NYPD veteran suggests. Cordero studied management manuals to prepare himself for shaking up the East Orange force. He overcame the inevitable resistance to change “by quick victories and a vision of where we wanted to go,” he says. “It’s a huge challenge, telling a deputy chief with 30 years’ experience: ‘We’re doing things differently now.’ ”
NYPD recruits also have to be careful not to bring NYPD-scale demands to their new departments. After all, no other police department in the country has the resources available to New York commanders. “Your education in the NYPD is invaluable, but [it makes] you think that’s how the rest of the world is,” Westchester County chief Belfiore warns other new bosses. “You’re used to pressing a button and saying: ‘I need a communication unit that speaks Spanish to help me find a missing five-year-old.’ Get ready: you’ll have a girl on the emergency services team who lives in [remote] Dutchess County, and you’ll have to wait an hour for her to get dressed and show up. You really have to temper your impatience. You can beat them down and take the heart out of them.”
David Chong, the affable commissioner of the greatly overstretched Mount Vernon agency, outlines the triage decisions that commanders in less lavishly funded departments face: “In the NYPD, to move 20 to 30 officers in response to a problem is nothing; here, it’s an entire shift. If I want to do a weekend sweep to take back a corner, I have to pay half the force overtime to come in, and that means I’m taking from the budget of other city services. You have to learn that it’s a marathon, not a sprint.” Chong has compensated for thin staffing by pressing his detectives to get as much intelligence as they can from victims as well as their assailants, since in his jurisdiction, today’s robbery victim may well be tomorrow’s perpetrator. He lowered violent crime 18 percent in 2007, but he longs for more manpower: “I could drive crime completely down in the central city if I had the resources,” he says wistfully.
But perhaps the biggest challenge that an NYPD transplant faces is not local resentment or a drastically reduced force but rather the clout that police unions possess elsewhere. “In the NYPD, no one sees the union contract,” says Pat Harnett, a major player in the Compstat revolution who ran the Hartford Police Department from 2004 to 2006. “In smaller departments, it’s the first thing they’ll show you: ‘This is the contract; you can’t do anything outside it.’ ” Labor-management relations were Cordero’s biggest challenge in Newton. “It’s a different culture up there,” he reports. “If you say, ‘Officer, you need to get out of your car,’ you get back: ‘It’s not in my contract, we need additional pay for that.’ ” In strong civil service systems, officers, not their commanders, in essence decide in which posts they will serve, based on seniority. In small towns, too, the union chief may live next door to the mayor and talk to him every day about the unreasonable demands that the new chief is placing on the department.
Union recalcitrance has driven some New York stars away from new jobs. John Timoney left the Philadelphia department, where he had little ability to put his top picks into leadership positions, “fed up with banging my head against the wall” with the unions over officer discipline and personnel decisions, he says. Former NYPD intelligence commander Dan Oates left the Ann Arbor department, he reports, frustrated with the power of Michigan’s labor law to “crush positive change.”
And a Newark police union has mounted an audacious challenge to Garry McCarthy, Newark’s only hope for escaping its decades-long stranglehold of violence. McCarthy, a Maple protégé and battle-hardened street cop, served as the NYPD’s chief crime strategist from 1999 to 2006. Since taking over the civilian position of police director in Newark in late 2006, McCarthy has moved accountability for crime to his precinct commanders, required 150 officers to leave their desks to fight crime on the streets—including, most controversially, on nights and weekends—and beefed up the department’s analytic abilities. He has also uncovered gross mismanagement of the department’s overtime budget. For his labors, the union representing Newark’s sergeants, lieutenants, and captains is suing to strip him of his powers, alleging that he is encroaching on those of the uniformed police chief. McCarthy is undaunted: “These people are gnats to me,” he told the Newark Star-Ledger. “I’m here with a mission.” If he wins the suit, McCarthy is confident of his future success. Homicides were down 44 percent in the first half of 2008 compared with the previous year. “We’re only scratching the surface here in Newark,” he says. “Wait till we start getting complicated.”
The absence of a regressive union culture in Gotham may help explain why the caliber of NYPD top brass is so high. Its executives stand “head and shoulders above the competition,” one ex-NYPD leader observes, perhaps because they actually have the authority to lead and innovate. New York City should reward its police unions, Oates says, for their unacknowledged flexibility.
For all the adjustments that smaller departments require of their new chiefs, they do offer ambitious crime-fighters an unparalleled intimacy with the communities that they serve. This April, Mount Vernon commissioner Chong was popping across to City Hall to snag a reporter an impromptu meeting with the mayor when a large man in a dented SUV politely accosted him. The driver had recently opened a bakery on a commercial thoroughfare and had noticed people streaming into and out of a nearby store without buying anything. There had already been a drug bust at the store, but it looked as though the activity had started up again. “Now I’m scared for my wife, who sometimes works alone” at the bakery, the businessman told Chong. Chong promised to follow up on the matter; he has since visited the bakery twice on his ubiquitous bike. The drug investigation is ongoing, but the couple is satisfied with the department’s response. “Chong’s a great guy,” the baker, Michael, enthused. “He’s approachable and makes you feel like he’s paying attention.”
With limited resources, Mount Vernon police commissioner David Chong reduced violent crime by nearly 20 percent in 2007.
Michael is just the sort of asset that long-struggling Mount Vernon needs. Forward-looking and optimistic, he has decided to invest in the city in the hope that it will experience the same turnaround that he witnessed in the Bronx and White Plains on his bread routes. “I see more foot traffic and stores coming my way,” he says. Owners are trying to organize a business improvement district, despite the difficult economy. “Everyone’s taking pride in their buildings and fixing up storefronts. It’s just a matter of time before everything is built up.”
Chong and his NYPD peers are acutely aware of the value of entrepreneurs like Michael, and they know how crucial policing is to their success. “If I can remove the fear of crime from this area,” Chong asserts, “people will come, developers will come. If it can be done in Harlem and on 42nd Street, it can be done here.” The redevelopment of Yonkers’s leafy waterfront, a short water-taxi ride away from Wall Street, began before Ed Hartnett took over the police department, but its continuing viability rests on keeping crime down. And East Orange has added yet more proof to the assertion that Cordero made at his 2004 swearing-in: “It’s been proven, time and again, that safety is vital to the rebirth of great American cities.” Standing-room-only crowds engage in bidding wars at auctions of commercial and residential properties; the city’s stately old homes are getting long-overdue makeovers; and neighboring Orange, still mired in corruption and crime, looks on enviously at East Orange’s policing revolution.
Cordero, Hartnett, and other members of the NYPD diaspora have been hit with the usual racial-profiling charges as they try to rid their cities of criminals; Yonkers has even had a visit from Al Sharpton himself. The race-baiters are oblivious to the fact that the greatest beneficiaries of proactive policing are blacks, who make up the overwhelming share of urban crime victims. The sixties-era excuse for crime has it exactly backward: crime is not the result of a bad urban economy, but it will certainly contribute to one. When crime declines, not only are black lives saved, but urban economies can rebound and provide jobs to people with the drive to get ahead.
The anti-cop agitators may be indifferent to the toll of crime on the people they claim to care about, but the black mayors whom several members of the NYPD diaspora work for are not. “We make it no secret that public safety is paramount,” says Mount Vernon mayor Clinton Young. “As long as the kids are safe, and the elderly safe, we are doing our job.” And as long as Compstat policing, the motor of New York City’s unanticipated turnaround in the 1990s, continues to spread throughout the United States, more of America’s great cities can look forward to futures of safety—and of opportunity, wealth, and creativity.
Heather Mac Donald is a contributing editor of City Journal and the John M. Olin Fellow at the Manhattan Institute. Her latest book, coauthored with Victor Davis Hanson and Steven Malanga, is The Immigration Solution.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues
on: October 14, 2008, 11:06:27 PM
Heather Mac Donald
The NYPD Diaspora
Former New York cops bring cutting-edge, effective policing to beleaguered communities.
Since the late 1990s, more than 18 police commanders have left the New York City police department to run their own agencies elsewhere. This unprecedented migration has spread the Compstat revolution—the data-driven transformation of policing begun under New York police commissioner William Bratton in 1994—across the nation. Some of the transplants are well-known: Bratton himself now heads the Los Angeles Police Department; and his former first deputy, John Timoney, has led both the Miami and the Philadelphia forces. But the diaspora also includes lesser-known young Turks who rose quickly through the NYPD’s ranks during the paradigm-shattering 1990s. Now, as chiefs in their own right, they’re proving the efficacy of analytic, accountable policing in agencies wholly dissimilar from New York’s—in one case, achieving success beyond anything seen in Gotham or elsewhere.
José Cordero once led precincts in the Bronx and in Manhattan’s Washington Heights, and eventually he served as New York’s first citywide gang strategist. Like other members of the diaspora, he describes the 1990s NYPD as a life-changing experience: “It was an incredibly resourceful, competitive environment. The wave of captains I was privileged to serve with fed off of each other’s experiments.” In 2002, he took the helm of the Newton, Massachusetts, police department, bringing crime in that already safe city down to its lowest point in over 30 years.
Then he moved to a very different city. East Orange, New Jersey, has 70,000 citizens by official counts, about 95 percent of them black, and deep pockets of poverty. Crime there—much of it violent—had started skyrocketing in 1999, reaching a per-capita rate in 2003 that was 14 times that of New York City and five times that of Detroit. East Orange’s mayor recruited Cordero to quell the violence; Cordero started work in 2004. The results were astonishing. By the end of 2007, major felonies had dropped 68 percent, and homicides 67 percent, from their 2003 high—possibly a national record. (By comparison, from 1993, the year before Bratton arrived in New York City, through 1997, major felonies in New York dropped 41 percent and homicides 60 percent.) East Orange’s remarkable experience should give pause to criminologists, who too often ascribe crime drops to anything but policing reforms.
If the true test of a leader is his ability to imbue an organization with his vision, Cordero has leadership skills in spades. Intelligence-driven policing, as he calls the Compstat principles, is now in the department’s bloodstream, as is the still-iconoclastic belief that the police can actually lower crime. Compstat refers both to the weekly crime-analysis meetings that Bratton pioneered in 1994 to grill precinct leaders about crime on their watch and, more broadly, to the crime-fighting principles that underlay those meetings: relentless gathering of information, constant evaluation of tactics, and a mechanism for holding commanders accountable for public safety. East Orange commanders now focus obsessively on their mission and revel in coming up with new ways to make the city inhospitable to criminals.
The transformation that Cordero effected in the East Orange department mirrored the one he had lived through as a young NYPD captain at the dawn of Compstat. “All we had done up to that point was put people in jail, and it hadn’t made a difference,” recalls the 52-year-old Bronx native. “The new concept was, know everything you possibly can about crime. What I took away from that period was that by challenging yourself continually to know what you don’t know, you can produce big results.”
So Cordero tasked his new team to find out everything it could about who was shooting whom. He combined East Orange’s gang and narcotics squads to maximize information-sharing between drug and gang detectives, since the narcotics trade and gang violence entwine so closely. Eventually, the department targeted the most violent drug dealers and drove them out of business. Word got out on the street that if you engaged in a shooting, not only were you going to do time—possibly in the federal slammer—but your whole criminal enterprise would be shut down.
Weekly Compstat meetings are at the core of the East Orange crime rout, but Cordero, like his expatriate peers, borrows freely from the entire gamut of crime-busting techniques developed in New York. He put East Orange’s two most dangerous streets under 24-hour lockdown for six months while the police bore down on the dealers, a strategy that his NYPD colleague (and now Newark top cop) Garry McCarthy had successfully pioneered in Washington Heights. Today, those two streets are clean and orderly.
Ronald Borgo exemplifies the East Orange Police Department’s transformation. He exudes enthusiasm as he sits at a computer terminal, putting the turbocharged crime-analysis computer program that Cordero designed through its paces. “I was ready to move on until I saw what Director Cordero brought on board,” says the barrel-chested 27-year veteran of the department, who is soon to be confirmed as chief (a position underneath director). “I’m embarrassed to say that in 2000, we didn’t know how to connect the dots. We were just reacting to crime. The director gave us the knowledge and the confidence to actually fight it.”
However much Cordero and Borgo stress that it is managerial and philosophical change, not fancy gadgets, that has driven crime down, it’s hard not to be wonderstruck by that computer program—“Compstat on steroids,” as Cordero calls it. Its “crime dashboard” graphically presents layer upon layer of real-time crime and policing information, updated every 30 seconds. Commanders can check whether any sector of the city is meeting its daily, weekly, and monthly crime-reduction targets, and how the sector’s record stacks up against last year’s numbers. They can instantly pull up a history of the crimes committed at any location, along with every police response to those crimes, in order to evaluate what strategies have or have not succeeded there in the past. Users can activate the city’s public cameras to display crime hot spots.
Illustration by Alberto Mena
. . . producing what may be the greatest crime turnaround in American history.
And most unusually, users can observe how every patrol car is deployed at that moment and what it is doing to prevent crime, in what the department calls “directed patrol.” Directed patrol is really nothing more than what good beat cops used to do as a matter of course, before the 911 radio car swallowed their jobs: rather than simply cruising around town waiting for trouble to happen, an officer is supposed to use his time to preempt crimes, ideally by getting out of his car. Cops might walk up a housing project’s stairwell to check for drug dealers, say, or pass out flyers about a robbery spree at a mini-mall. “You’d be surprised what people will tell you when you’re out of your car that they won’t call the department about,” says Borgo—such as that a neighboring apartment is likely dealing drugs. Institutionalizing the concept of directed patrol represents a “huge organizational change in how officers work on the street,” says Lieutenant Chris Anagnostis. “The new model is: when a cop is not answering a radio call, he should be back in his zone engaged in proactive policing.”
The real-time display of patrol activity allows managers to monitor deployment patterns as well as officer initiative. “If a citizen reports a problem, and an officer doesn’t see and act on it, then it becomes clear to me that he is not enthusiastic about his job,” says Cordero, who dismisses the suggestion that the oversight may feel Orwellian to a street cop. “We’re not looking to see if an officer is having a cup of coffee. We’re in the business of protecting people; any good cop will see the value of that. For those that don’t, I have a word for them: ‘Tough. Find another line of work.’ ”
The patrol-car locator system did produce a backlash. Some officers broke their cars’ antennae or yanked out the requisite communication wires. Cordero remained unfazed: “There’s 70,000 people I care about; I don’t fear disgruntled cops.” He seems to have won the battle—officers now treat the vehicle locators as a matter of course. And self-initiated activity has gone way up, reports Borgo. “In 2004, we did 6,389 directed patrols and we thought we were working. In 2007, we did almost half a million,” he says. “The technology is one thing, but these cops, my cops, are working. I’m so proud of these cops.”
After the department introduced the crime dashboard in 2005, crime plummeted 26 percent in one year. Currently, only supervisors at headquarters and in the field have access to the dashboard, but eventually, every officer on the beat will have a simplified version in his car, so that he can monitor crime in the city in real time and see how his colleagues are responding.
The crime dashboard was just the start of East Orange’s technology boom, which has cost about $1.5 million, paid for with federal and state grants and criminal forfeiture money. On the two streets that had been locked down, the department gave residents computer programs enabling them to report suspicious conditions by pointing their mouses at street photos. Community patrol officers have “virtual directed patrol” screens in their cars that let them watch two places simultaneously: they can park at a drug corner to deter dealing, for instance, while calling up camera shots of other high-crime locales throughout the city. Back at the station house, a detective rides the same public camera system, zooming in on a license plate, say, to see if a car is stolen or if its driver is wanted on an outstanding warrant. Borgo is even building a room in the reception area with 42 large screens that will display live shots from all over the city—a public display of the department’s surveillance capacities, which criminals already falsely believe are all-encompassing. “And I’m going to get civilians to monitor them: they see as well as people in uniform,” he adds slyly.
Gunshot-detection sensors at various locations alert headquarters immediately when a gun gets discharged outdoors. Cameras then take pictures around the source of the shot, with an emphasis on roads and nearby arteries leaving the city, since in 70 percent of East Orange shootings, someone zooms off afterward in a car. The department also plans to introduce license-recognition technology that will automatically tell the police when a stolen car has entered the city.
Bratton famously drew on business principles to transform the NYPD bureaucracy into a crime-fighting machine—a bottom-line orientation that Cordero has absorbed as well. “You have to treat this business as if it were your own,” he says. “A Fortune 500 company is in the business of making money; we’re in the business of saving lives. Can I survive a year without a return on my investment? Maybe. Five years? No.” Cordero regards the public as the consumers of policing services. “We don’t accept excuses when we’re shopping if any item is not available; we expect supply to be consistent with demand,” he points out. “The public should not accept excuses from the police.”
Moreover, Cordero argues, a police department must respond to what consumers actually want from it, not to what it thinks they should want. The two things are not necessarily identical, as Broken Windows theorists point out and police departments discover time and again. “In the South Bronx, we took out the gangs; violence plummeted,” he recalls. “I expected kudos, but instead people asked what we were doing about stolen cars, prostitution, and Saturday night boom boxes.” Consistent with his business-service model, Cordero started sending civilian inspectors to East Orange households where officers had answered 911 calls, to poll residents about the officers’ performances. These audits, like the directed patrols, were initially unpopular among some members of the rank and file but are also now regarded as routine.
Crime continues to fall in East Orange, half a year after Cordero left the department to become New Jersey’s first gang-violence czar and bring intelligence-driven policing to the entire state. As of mid-June 2008, crime in East Orange was down another 15 percent over the same period in 2007, even as violence remains high in perennially murder-torn cities like Camden.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues
on: October 14, 2008, 10:55:50 PM
I doubt very much anywhere in the US, you'll find any law enforcement agency trying to figure out what to do with an abundance of funds and personnel. The priority is targeting crimes that affect "quality of life". This means keeping gangs out of your neighborhood and your car in front of your house in the A.M. It also means keeping the next smoking hole from appearing in the midst of American cities.
Budgets are shrinking, police forces are shrinking, we're trying to use technology as a "force multiplier" to keep the public safe as we do more with less.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues
on: October 14, 2008, 12:07:14 PM
Well, the problem is with both BBG's and your objections is they seem to consist of "datamining is bad because it could be abused". This seems to fall under a general umbrella of "technology is bad, because it can be abused."
Datamining, is an essential part of what is known as "intelligence driven policing". It's not just counterterrorism, it's addressing the problems that impact the community served, by tracking crimes and responding with the appropriate allocation of resources. It's a matter of trying to make government more efficient and more effective.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Islamic Countries:
on: October 13, 2008, 08:37:07 PM
Should attempts be made at conversion? Some jurists accept the distinction between Murtadd fitri and Murtadd milli, and argue that the former be put to death immediately. Others, leaning on sura IV.137,“Lo! those who believe, then disbelieve and then (again) believe, then disbelieve, and then increase in disbelief, Allah will never pardon them, nor will he guide them unto a way,” insist on three attempts at conversion, or have the apostate imprisoned for three days to begin with. Others argue that one should wait for the cycle of the five times of prayer and ask the apostate to perform the prayers at each. Only if he refuses at each prayer time is the death penalty to be applied. If he repents and embraces Islam once more, he is released.
The murtadd of course would be denied a Muslim burial, but he suffers other civil disabilities as well. His property is taken over by the believers, if he returns penitent he is given back what remains. Others argue that the apostate’s rights of ownership are merely suspended, only if he dies outside the territory under Islam does he forfeit his property to the Muslim community. If either the husband or wife apostasizes, a divorce takes place ipso facto; the wife is entitled to her whole dower but no pronouncement of divorce is necessary. According to some jurists, if husband and wife apostasize together their marriage is still valid. However if either the wife or husband were singly to return to Islam then their marriage would be dissolved. According to Abu Hanifa, legal activities such as manumission, endowment, testament and sale are suspended. But not all jurists agree. Some Shi’i jurists would ask the Islamic Law towards apostates to be applied even outside the Dar al -Islam, in non-Muslim countries.
Finally, according to the Shafites it is not only apostasy from Islam that is to be punished with death, but also apostasy from other religions when this is not accompanied by conversion to Islam. For example, a Jew who becomes a Christian will thus have to be put to death since the Prophet has ordered in general that everyone “who adopts any other religion” shall be put to death.
Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights [UDHR,1948] states: “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance”.
The clause guaranteeing the freedom to change one’s religion was added at the request of the delegate from Lebanon, Charles Malik, who was a Christian. Lebanon had accepted many people fleeing persecution for their beliefs, in particular for having changed their religion. Lebanon especially objected to the Islamic law concerning apostasy. Many Muslim countries, however, objected strongly to the clause regarding the right to change one’s religion. The delegate from Egypt, for instance, said that “very often a man changes religion or his convictions under external influences with goals which are not recommendable such as divorce.” He added that he feared in proclaiming the liberty to change one’s religion or convictions the Universal Declaration would encourage without wishing it “the machinations of certain missions well- known in the East, which relentlessly pursue their efforts with a view to converting to their faith the populations of the East”. Significantly, Lebanon was supported by a delegate from Pakistan who belonged to the Ahmadi community which, ironically, was to be thrown out of the Islamic community in the 1970s for being non-Muslim. In the end all Muslim countries except Saudi Arabia adhered to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
During discussions of Article 18 in 1966, Saudi Arabia and Egypt wanted to suppress the clause guaranteeing the freedom to change one’s religion. Finally a compromise amendment proposed by Brazil and the Philippines was adopted to placate the Islamic countries. Thus, “the freedom to change his religion or belief” was replaced by “the freedom to have or adopt a religion or belief of his choice.” Similarly in 1981, during discussions on the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief, Iran, under the new regime reminded everyone that Islam punished apostasy by death. The delegate from Iraq, backed up by Syria, speaking on behalf of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference expressed his reserve for any clauses or terms that would contradict the Islamic Sharia, while the delegate from Egypt felt that they had to guard against such a clause being exploited for political ends to interfere in the internal affairs of states.
The various Islamic human rights schemes or declarations - such as the Universal Islamic Declaration of Human Rights (1981) are understandably vague or evasive on the issue of the freedom to change one’s religion, since Islam itself clearly forbids apostasy and punishes it with death. As Elisabeth Mayer says, “The lack of support for the principle of freedom of religion in the Islamic human rights schemes is one of the factors that most sharply distinguishes them from the International Bill of Human Rights, which treats freedom of religion as an unqualified right. The [Muslim] authors’ unwillingness to repudiate the rule that a person should be executed over a question of religious belief reveals the enormous gap that exists between their mentalities and the modern philosophy of human rights.” Islamic Human Rights Schemes are clearly not universal since they introduce a specifically Islamic religious criterion into the political sphere, whereas the UDHR of 1948 places human rights in an entirely secular and universalist framework. The Islamic human rights schemes severely restrict and qualify the rights of individuals, particularly women, non-Muslims and those, such as apostates, who do not accept Islamic religious orthodoxy.
As for the constitutions of various Muslim countries, while many do guarantee freedom of belief (Egypt,1971; Syria, 1973; Jordan, 1952) some talk of freedom of conscience (Algeria:1989), and some of freedom of thought and opinion (Mauritania: 1991). Islamic countries with two exceptions do not address the issue of apostasy in their penal codes; the two exceptions are the Sudan, and Mauritania. In the Sudanese Penal Code of 1991, article 126. 2, we read: “Whoever is guilty of apostasy is invited to repent over a period to be determined by the tribunal. If he persists in his apostasy and was not recently converted to Islam, he will be put to death.” The Penal Code of Mauritania of 1984, article 306 reads: “…All Muslims guilty of apostasy, either spoken or by overt action will be asked to repent during a period of three days. If he does not repent during this period, he is condemned to death as an apostate, and his belongings confiscated by the State Treasury.” This applies equally to women. The Moroccan Penal Code seems only to mention those guilty of trying to subvert the belief of a Muslim, or those who try to convert a Muslim to another religion. The punishment varies between a fine and imprisonment for anything up to three years.
The absence of any mention of apostasy in some penal codes of Islamic countries of course in no way implies that a Muslim in the country concerned is free to leave his religion. In reality, the lacunae in the penal codes are filled by Islamic Law. Mahmud Muhammad Taha was hanged for apostasy in 1985, even though at the time the Sudanese Penal Code of 1983 did not mention such a crime.
In some countries, the term apostate is applied to some who were born non-Muslim but whose ancestors had the good sense to convert from Islam. The Baha’is in Iran in recent years have been persecuted for just such a reason. Similarly, in Pakistan the Ahmadiya community were classed as non-Muslims, and are subjected to all sorts of persecution.
There is some evidence that many Muslim women in Islamic countries would convert from Islam to escape their lowly position in Muslim societies, or to avoid the application of an unfavorable law, especially Sharia law governing divorce. Muslim theologians are well aware of the temptation of Muslim women to evade the Sharia laws by converting from Islam, and take appropriate measures. For example, in Kuwait in an explanatory memorandum to the text of a law reform says: “Complaints have shown that the Devil makes the route of apostasy attractive to the Muslim woman so that she can break a conjugal tie that does not please her. For this reason, it was decided that apostasy would not lead to the dissolution of the marriage in order to close this dangerous door.”
Just to give you one recent example among many, others are discussed in my book, Leaving Islam Apostates Speak Out (Prometheus Books, 2003):
“A Somali living in Yemen since 1994, Mohammed Omer Haji, converted to Christianity two years ago and adopted the name "George." He was imprisoned in January, 2000 and reportedly beaten and threatened for two months by Yemeni security police, who tried to persuade him to renounce his conversion to Christianity. After he was re-arrested in May, he was formally put on trial in June for apostasy, under article 259 of Yemen's criminal law. Haji's release came seven weeks after he was given a court ultimatum to renounce Christianity and return to Islam, or face execution as an apostate. Apostasy is a capital offence under the Muslim laws of "sharia" enforced in Yemen. After news of the case broke in the international press, Yemeni authorities halted the trial proceedings against Haji. He was transferred on July 17 to Aden's Immigration Jail until resettlement could be finalized by the UNHCR, under which Haji had formal refugee status. One of the politicians who tabled a motion in July 2000 in the British House of Commons was David Atkinson. “Early Day Motion on Mohammed Omer Haji. That this House deplores the death penalty which has been issued from the Aden Tawahi Court in Yemen for the apostasy of the Somali national Mohammed Omer Haji unless he recants his Christian faith and states that he is a Muslim before the judge three times on Wednesday 12th July; deplores that Mr Haji was held in custody for the sole reason that he held to the Christian faith and was severely beaten in custody to the point of not being able to walk; considers it a disgrace that UNHCR officials in Khormaksar stated they were only able to help him if he was a Muslim; and calls on the British Government and international colleagues to make representations immediately at the highest level in Yemen to ensure Mr Haji's swift release and long-term safety and for the repeal of Yemen's barbaric apostate laws.”
Amnesty International adopted Haji as a prisoner of conscience in an "urgent action" release on July 11, 2000 concluding that he was "detained solely on account of his religious beliefs”. The government of New Zealand accepted Haji and his family for emergency resettlement in late July after negotiations with the Geneva headquarters of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). However charges of apostasy, unbelief , blasphemy and heresy whether upheld or not clearly go against several articles in UDHR of 1948 , and the legally binding International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights [ICCPR] of 1966 to which 147 states are signatories. General comment No 22, adopted by the UN Human Rights Commission at its 48th session (1993) ( HRI/GEN/1/Rev.6 of 22 May 2003 , pp.155-56 ) declares (quote):“Article 18 protects theistic, non-theistic and atheistic beliefs, as well as the right not to profess any religion or belief. The term “belief” and “religion” are to be broadly construed”.
As with my statement to the U.N. Human Rights Commission delivered by the President of the IHEU, I urge the U.N. Human Rights Commission to call on all governments to comply with applicable international human rights instruments like the ICCPR and to bring their national legislation into accordance with the instruments to which they were a party , and forbid fatwas and sermons preaching violence in the name of god against those holding unorthodox opinions or those who have left a religion.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Islamic Countries:
on: October 13, 2008, 08:35:55 PM
Islam, Apostasy, and Human Rights
Here is the full text of an enormously important paper that was presented by Ibn Warraq at a panel discussion on "Apostasy, Human Rights, Religion and Belief" held at the the 60th Session of the UN Commission on Human Rights in Geneva on April 7, 2004. Ibn Warraq, of course, is the outstandingly courageous author of Why I am not a Muslim and the editor of The Origins of the Koran; The Quest for the Historical Muhammad; What the Koran Really Says; and Leaving Islam: Apostates Speak Out.
The very notion of apostasy has vanished from the West where one would talk of being a lapsed Catholic or non-practicing Christian rather than an apostate. There are certainly no penal sanctions for converting from Christianity to any other religion. In Islamic countries, on the other hand, the issue is far from dead.
The Arabic word for apostate is murtadd, the one who turns back from Islam, and apostasy is denoted by irtidad and ridda. Ridda seems to have been used for apostasy from Islam into unbelief ( in Arabic, kufr ), and irtidad from Islam to some other religion. A person born of Muslim parents who later rejects Islam is called a Murtadd Fitri - fitri meaning natural, it can also mean instinctive, native, inborn, innate. One who converts to Islam and subsequently leaves it is a Murtadd Milli, from milla meaning religious community .The Murtadd Fitri can be seen as someone unnatural, subverting the natural course of things whose apostasy is a willful and obstinate act of treason against God and the one and only true creed, and a betrayal and desertion of the community. The Murtadd Milli is a traitor to the Muslim community, and equally disruptive.
Any verbal denial of any principle of Muslim belief is considered apostasy. If one declares, for example, that the universe has always existed from eternity or that God has a material substance, then one is an apostate. If one denies the unity of God or confesses to a belief in reincarnation, one is guilty of apostasy. Certain acts are also deemed acts of apostasy, for example treating a copy of the Koran disrespectfully, by burning it or even soiling it in some way. Some doctors of Islamic law claim that a Muslim becomes an apostate if he or she enters a church, worships an idol, or learns and practises magic. A Muslim becomes an apostate if he defames the Prophet’s character, morals or virtues, and denies Muhammad’s prophethood and that he was the seal of the prophets.
It is clear quite clear that under Islamic Law an apostate must be put to death. There is no dispute on this ruling among classical Muslim or modern scholars, and we shall return to the textual evidence for it. Some modern scholars have argued that in the Koran the apostate is threatened with punishment only in the next world, as for example at XVI.106, “Whoso disbelieveth in Allah after his belief –save him who is forced thereto and whose heart is still content with the Faith but whoso findeth ease in disbelief: On them is wrath from Allah. Theirs will be an awful doom.” Similarly in III.90-91, “Lo! those who disbelieve after their (profession of) belief, and afterward grow violent in disbelief, their repentance will not be accepted. And such are those who are astray. Lo! those who disbelieve, and die in disbelief, the (whole) earth full of gold would not be accepted from such an one if it were offered as a ransom (for his soul).Theirs will be a painful doom and they will have no helpers.”
However, Sura II.217 is interpreted by no less an authority than al-Shafi’i(died 820 C.E.), the founder of one of the four orthodox schools of law of Sunni Islam to mean that the death penalty should be prescribed for apostates. Sura II.217 reads: “… But whoever of you recants and dies an unbeliever , his works shall come to nothing in this world and the next, and they are the companions of the fire for ever.” Al-Thalabi and al -Khazan concur. Al-Razi in his commentary on II:217 says the apostate should be killed.
Similarly, IV. 89: “They would have you disbelieve as they themselves have disbelieved, so that you may be all like alike. Do not befriend them until they have fled their homes for the cause of God. If they desert you seize them and put them to death wherever you find them. Look for neither friends nor helpers among them…” Baydawi (died c. 1315-16), in his celebrated commentary on the Koran, interprets this passage to mean: “Whosover turns back from his belief ( irtada ), openly or secretly, take him and kill him wheresoever ye find him, like any other infidel. Separate yourself from him altogether. Do not accept intercession in his regard”. Ibn Kathir in his commentary on this passage quoting Al Suddi (died 745) says that since the unbelievers had manifested their unbelief they should be killed.
Abul Ala Mawdudi [1903-1979], the founder of the Jamat-i Islami, is perhaps the most influential Muslim thinker of the 20th century, being responsible for the Islamic resurgence in modern times. He called for a return to the Koran and a purified sunna as a way to revive and revitalise Islam. In his book on apostasy in Islam, Mawdudi argued that even the Koran prescribes the death penalty for all apostates. He points to sura IX for evidence:
“But if they repent and establish worship and pay the poor-due, then are they your brethren in religion. We detail our revelations for a people who have knowledge. And if they break their pledges after their treaty (hath been made with you) and assail your religion, then fight the heads of disbelief Lo! they have no binding oaths in order that they may desist.”(IX: 11,12)
Here we find many traditions demanding the death penalty for apostasy. According to Ibn Abbas the Prophet said, “Kill him who changes his religion,” or “behead him.” The only argument was as to the nature of the death penalty. Bukhari recounts this gruesome tradition:
“Narrated Anas:Some people from the tribe of Ukl came to the Prophet and embraced Islam .The climate of Medina did not suit them, so the Prophet ordered them to go to the (herd of milch ) camels of charity to drink their milk and urine (as a medicine).They did so, and after they had recovered from their ailment they turned renegades (reverted from Islam, irtada ) and killed the shepherd of the camels and took the camels away. The Prophet sent (some people) in their pursuit and so they were caught and brought, and the Prophet ordered that their hands and legs should be cut off and that their eyes should be branded with heated pieces of iron , and that their cut hands and legs should not be cauterised, till they die.”
Abu Dawud has collected the following saying of the Prophet:
“ ‘Ikrimah said: Ali burned some people who retreated from Islam. When Ibn Abbas was informed of it he said, ‘If it had been I, I would not have them burned, for the apostle of Allah said: ‘Do not inflict Allah’s punishment on anyone.’ But would have killed them on account of the statement of the Apostle of Allah, ‘Kill those who change their religion.’ ”
In other words, kill the apostates (with the sword) but certainly not by burning them, that is Allah’s way of punishing transgressors in the next world. According to a tradition of Aisha’s, apostates are to be slain, crucified or banished.
Should the apostate be given a chance to repent? Traditions differ enormously. In one tradition, Muadh Jabal refused to sit down until an apostate brought before him had been killed “in accordance with the decision of God and of His Apostle.”
Under Muslim law, the male apostate must be put to death, as long as he is an adult, and in full possession of his faculties. If a pubescent boy apostatises, he is imprisoned until he comes of age, when if he persists in rejecting Islam he must be put to death. Drunkards and the mentally disturbed are not held responsible for their apostasy. If a person has acted under compulsion he is not considered an apostate, his wife is not divorced and his lands are not forfeited. According to Hanafis and Shia, a woman is imprisoned until she repents and adopts Islam once more, but according to the influential Ibn Hanbal, and the Malikis and Shafiites , she is also put to death. In general, execution must be by the sword, though there are examples of apostates tortured to death, or strangled, burnt, drowned, impaled or flayed. The caliph Umar used to tie them to a post and had lances thrust into their hearts, and the Sultan Baybars II (1308-09) made torture legal.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Palin phenomenon
on: October 13, 2008, 07:22:35 PM
New Washington Post "Expose" on Palin:
You have to read the article carefully to figure this out, but what the story ultimately reveals is that Palin (a) billed the state for most expenses allowed by law, including per diem when she stayed in her own home (her "duty station" was the state capitol of Juneau) in Wasilla; (b) didn't bill the state for other expenses, when she could have done so lawfully, such as per diems for her children; and (c) spent a lot less money on expenses than did her predecessor, especially on travel and by ridding herself of the state's personal chef. [FWIW, she apparently maintained two residences, the governor's mansion in Juneau, which by state law is her official work "base" and where assumedly she didn't get a per diem [update: confirmed here] (but where her predecessor had a personal chef whom she let go), and Wasilla, from where she commuted to Anchorage for work when the legislature wasn't in session. Saintly to take the per diem she was legally entitled to when in the second residence? No. Worthy of the lead headline on Washingtonpost.com? Please! Not illegal, not unethical, and not a scandal.]
Meanwhile, I have to wonder whether the Post has several reporters looking over Joe Biden's expense reports. Does he bill the government for his daily roundtrip to Delaware? How many "fact-finding missions" has he participated in annually during his Senate career? Inquiring minds want to know?
UPDATE: The Post doesn't do the math for us, but the total per diem claimed was $16,951 divided divided by 312 days, or $54.33 per day (the per diem is $60, so there were some partial days).
Also, the article headline, "Palin Billed State for Nights Spent at Home," and some related content, is very misleading. A glance at the expense report reproduced on the Post's website makes it clear that she requested per diem for her daily expenses, but not for lodging, and that she apparently wrote "lodging--own home" only to explain why she wasn't requesting hotel expenses. One almost wonders whether the author of the story understands what a "per diem" is; the story notes that Palin rarely charged the state for meals when in Wasilla and Anchorage, but of course she didn't, because she instead just asked for the per diem!
The Post also reports:In the past, per diem claims by Alaska state officials have carried political risks. In 1988, the head of the state Commerce Department was pilloried for collecting a per diem charge of $50 while staying in his Anchorage home, according to local news accounts. The commissioner, the late Tony Smith, resigned amid a series of controversies.
"It was quite the little scandal," said Tony Knowles, the Democratic governor from 1994 to 2000.
It must have been quite a little scandal, because a search of the Anchorage Daily News for "Tony Smith" reveals no per diem controversy, only a controversy over alleged contract-steering that led to Smith's resignation, and an earlier, much smaller controversy about state officials, including Smith, taking foreign trips. There was a contemporaneous (early 1989) controversy over the expenses claimed by state Sen. Paul Fischer, including allegations that he requested a per diem on days when he was not where he claimed to be.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Palin phenomenon
on: October 13, 2008, 07:14:27 PM
Secret service are paid to protect the president. If he happens to be at a religious service it really has very little to do with their job. They are doing their job. The job they are paid to do.
Palin is not paid to attend religious services, and if she charges the taxpayers for it then there is a problem.
The two are very clearly different.
She got her per diem as allowed for by law, she didn't bill for attending a religious service. It's not like she got a house through Tony Rezko or anything.....
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues
on: October 13, 2008, 03:18:41 PM
Data Mining and Value-Added Analysis
By COLLEEN McCUE, Ph.D., EMILY S. STONE, M.S.W., and TERESA P. GOOCH, M.S.
We are drowning in information but starved for knowledge.
Law enforcement agencies, particularly in view of the current emphasis on terrorism, increasingly face the challenge of sorting through large amounts of information needed to help them make informed decisions and successfully fulfill their missions. At the same time, resources, particularly personnel, often dwindle. Described by one agency as the “volume challenge,”1 local, state, and federal agencies alike all struggle with an ever-increasing amount of information that far exceeds their ability to effectively analyze it in a timely fashion.
However, while these issues have surfaced, an extremely powerful tool has emerged from the business community. This tool, used by mortgage brokers to determine credit risk, local supermarkets to ascertain how to strategically stock their shelves, and Internet retailers to facilitate sales, also can benefit law enforcement personnel. Commonly known as data mining, this powerful tool can help investigators to effectively and efficiently perform such tasks as the analysis of crime and intelligence data.2 Fortunately, because of recent developments in data mining, they do not have to possess technical proficiency to use this tool, only expertise in their respective subject matter.
Dr. McCue is the program manager for the Crime Analysis Unit of the Richmond, Virginia, Police Department and holds faculty appointments at Virginia Commonwealth University.
Lieutenant Colonel Gooch serves as assistant chief of the Richmond, Virginia, Police Department.
Ms. Stone served as a crime analyst with the Richmond, Virginia, Police Department.
WHAT IS DATA MINING?
Data mining serves as an automated tool that uses multiple advanced computational techniques, including artificial intelligence (the use of computers to perform logical functions), to fully explore and characterize large data sets involving one or more data sources, identifying significant, recognizable patterns, trends, and relationships not easily detected through traditional analytical techniques alone.3 This information then may help with various purposes, such as the prediction of future events or behaviors.
Domain experts, or those with expertise in their respective fields, must determine if information obtained through data mining holds value. For example, a strong relationship between the time of day and a series of robberies would prove valuable to a law enforcement officer with expertise in the investigation pertaining to this information. On the other hand, if investigators, while reviewing historical homicide data, noticed that victims normally possessed lip balm, they would not, of course, associate lip balm or chapped lips with an increased risk for death.
WHY USE DATA MINING IN LAW ENFORCEMENT?
The staggering increase in the volume of information now flooding into the law enforcement community requires the use of more advanced analytical methods. Because data-mining software now proves user-friendly, personal-computer based, and, thus, affordable, law enforcement agencies at all levels can use it to help effectively handle this increased flow of data.
The law enforcement community can use data mining to effectively analyze information contained in many large data sets, even those involving written narratives (which represent a great deal of valuable law enforcement information). These may include calls for service data, crime or incident reports, witness statements, suspect interviews, tip information, telephone toll analysis, or Internet activity—almost any information that law enforcement professionals encounter in the course of their work.4
Not only can these data sets differ by type but they can originate from different sources,5 potentially giving law enforcement agencies both a more complete informational base from which to draw conclusions and the ability to identify related information in separate databases or investigations. For example, this may prove valuable in the area of illegal narcotics enforcement. The law enforcement community frequently gathers information regarding markets, trends, and patterns, while medical and social services personnel store information concerning substance use and abuse on the individual level. In instances where appropriate, the opportunity to combine these data resources can give investigators a more complete picture and can help address various narcotics problems more rapidly, potentially saving both lives and resources.
Law enforcement agencies can consider exploring the use of data-mining applications to assist them in a variety of areas. Some examples include tactical crime analysis, deployment, risk assessment, behavioral analysis, DNA analysis, homeland security, and Internet/infrastructure protection.
Tactical Crime Analysis
Data mining offers law enforcement agencies potential benefits in the area of tactical crime analysis. For example, because agencies can use data mining for such purposes as to more quickly and effectively identify relationships and similarities between crimes and to forecast future events based on historical behavioral patterns, they can develop investigative leads and effective action plans more rapidly.6 Major case investigations, which frequently present not only large volumes of information but also demands for rapid case resolution, serve as good examples of how law enforcement agencies can benefit from data mining in this regard.
Law enforcement agencies can use data-mining technology to help them deploy their resources, including personnel, more effectively and proactively. For instance, data mining can help them identify such key elements in a case or series of events as patterns of time and location—by forecasting future events based on this historical data, agencies potentially could anticipate strategic locations for deployment.
Data mining also allows agencies to consider multiple variables at one time and to add more weight to those considered most important to the decision at hand. For example, patrol officers, who generally respond to incidents with quick turnaround rates, may answer to numerous calls for service and effect many arrests in a relatively short amount of time. On the other hand, death investigations can require multiple officers’ entire shifts just to maintain the crime scene perimeter; as a result, homicide investigators generally may handle considerably fewer incidents and arrests. To this end, by weighing heavily such factors as the type and duration of these incidents, law enforcement agencies can develop effective deployment strategies.
By using data mining, law enforcement personnel, for purposes of analysis, also can link incidents, crimes, or changes in crime trends to other types of events in making deployment decisions. For example, an agency historically may have noticed relationships between major weather events, such as snowstorms or hurricanes, and decreases in street crimes. Also, they may have seen how the arrests of key players in organized crime or drug distribution rings seem to result in increased violence as informants are sought and identified and as new leaders emerge during reorganization. As another example, they may associate increased apprehension rates and a strong economy with decreases in property crimes.7 By using data mining to consider such relationships, law enforcement agencies then can deploy their personnel as they deem necessary.
Much like lenders and credit companies use data mining to great effect in assessing the financial gamble involved with lending money or extending credit to individuals or groups, law enforcement agencies can use it to characterize the risk involved in various incidents. For example, agency personnel can explore the use of data mining to identify common characteristics of armed robberies that ended in assaults; doing so then can help identify those that may escalate into assaults in the future. Similarly, in the past, certain types of property crimes have proven related to subsequent stranger rapes.8 The ability to characterize property crimes as similar to those previously associated with subsequent sexual assaults can alert investigators to focus on certain cases and develop effective action plans, perhaps preventing many similar situations from occurring in the future.
The behavioral analysis of violent crime represents another area with significant potential for data mining. For instance, law enforcement agencies can use data mining to identify common behavioral characteristics in different cases. Even when not identifying a specific offender, investigators may find it possible to gain some insight into what type of offender may prove related to a particular incident. Research in this area, for example, has resulted in the use of data mining to efficiently link serious cases based on behaviors.9
Law enforcement agencies also can benefit from the use of data mining when examining DNA evidence. For example, when DNA links a new suspect to an old case, investigators logically may wonder what other cases the suspect may be linked to. Given the amount of information involved, law enforcement personnel can find it virtually impossible to efficiently and completely search old case files each time they identify a new suspect. To this end, compiling DNA information into a searchable database gives law enforcement agencies a powerful tool to help identify, and potentially close, additional linked cases.
Processing and gaining meaningful insight from the staggering amount of data critical to homeland security has proven difficult.10 Law enforcement agencies can use data mining to help them face this challenge.
For instance, investigators would like to anticipate, and thereby prevent, acts of terrorism. By using data mining to identify relevant historical patterns, trends, and relationships involving terrorists, they could accomplish this objective more effectively.
Also, because data mining allows law enforcement agencies to evaluate information in varied formats and from various databases and agencies, it can enable them to effectively and efficiently analyze a wide range of information that potentially could shed light on terrorist activity. For example, by analyzing information from multiple health-related data sources, law enforcement agencies could recognize significant patterns of illness that may indicate bioterrorism activity or the use of other weapons of mass destruction.11 Agencies also can use this capability to associate general crimes with terrorist activity by linking them with additional intelligence—recent information suggesting links between cigarette smuggling and terrorist financing12 serves as a valid example.
The law enforcement community may find that the capability of data mining in characterizing and monitoring normal activity, as well as identifying irregular or suspicious activity, proves applicable in the area of Internet and infrastructure protection. For example, the recognition of suspicious patterns of Web site activity not only can help in the area of traditional intrusion protection but also can serve as an important warning about the release of information. The FBI’s National Infrastructure Protection Center (NIPC) recently underscored the importance of reviewing all Internet materials currently available, as well as those considered for release, for potential threats to critical infrastructure and homeland security.13 This warning comes as many municipal Web sites are receiving suspicious activity and interest.14 This information particularly includes that which, either on its own merits or in combination with other open-source materials, may prove useful to entities with malicious intent.
Law enforcement agencies face an ever-increasing flood of information that threatens to overwhelm them; this will require a change in how they process and analyze data. Data-mining technology represents a powerful, user-friendly, and accessible new tool that agencies can use to help them in facing this challenge as they seek to fulfill their missions—ultimately, to ensure the safety and welfare of the public.
1 Tabassum Zakaria, “CIA Turns to Data Mining”; retrieved on April 10, 2003, from http://www.parallaxresearch.com/
2 The authors based this article largely on their experience with and research on the subject of data mining.
3 Bruce Moxon, “Defining Data Mining”; retrieved on April 10, 2003, from http://www.dbmsmag.com/9608d53.html
4 Law enforcement agencies must address appropriate constitutional and legal concerns if using public source data for law enforcement purposes.
5 Law enforcement agencies, when collecting information from different sources, must decide how they will address the issue of cleaning the data, or preparing data for data-mining activities.
6 Donald Brown, “The Regional Crime Analysis Program (RECAP): A Framework for Mining Data to Catch Criminals”; retrieved on April 10, 2003, from http:// vijis.sys.virginia.edu/publication/ RECAP.pdf.
7 Ayse Imrohoroglu, Anthony Merlo, and Peter Rupert, “What Accounts for the Decline in Crime?”; retrieved on April 10, 2003, from http://www.clev.frb.org/Research/workpaper/2000/wp0008.pdf
8 Colleen McCue, Georgia Smith, Robyn Diehl, Deanne Dabbs, James McDonough, and Paul Ferrara, “Why DNA Databases Should Include All Felons,” Police Chief, October 2001, 94-100.
9 Richard Adderley and Peter Musgrove, “Data Mining Case Study: Modelling the Behaviour of Offenders Who Commit Serious Sexual Assaults,” in Proceedings of the Seventh Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Special Interest Group on Knowledge Discovery in Data (SIGKDD) International Conference on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining Held in San Francisco 26-29 August 2001, (New York NY: ACM Press, 2001), 215-220.
10 Supra note 1; and Eric Chabrow, “The FBI Must Overhaul Its IT Infrastructure to Fulfill a New Mandate of Fighting Terrorism, Cyberattacks”; retrieved on April 10, 2003, from http://www
. informationweek.com/story/ IWK20020602S0004; and Walter Pincus and Dana Priest, “NSA Intercepts on Eve of 9/11 Sent Warning”; retrieved on April 10, 2003, from http://www.secretpolicy
11 Steve Bunk, “Early Warning: U.S. Scientists Counter Bioterrorism with New Electronic Sentinel Systems”; retrieved on April 10, 2003, from http://www.scenpro
12 Paul Nowell, “Hezbollah in North Carolina?”; retrieved on April 10, 2003, from http://www.abcnews.go.com/sections/
13 National Center for Infrastructure Protection (NIPC), Highlights, Issue 11- 01, December 7, 2001; retrieved on April 10, 2003, from http://www.nipc.gov/
14 Barton Gellman, “Cyber-Attacks by Al Qaeda Feared”; retrieved on April 10, 2003, from http://www.washingtonpost
. com/wp-dyn/articles/A50765-2002 Jun26.html.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues
on: October 13, 2008, 03:04:29 PM
Dig Into Data Mining
Enhanced analysis can help law enforcement be more proactive
From the March 2007 Issue
By Rebecca Kanable
What's your favorite brand of toilet paper? How about deodorant?
Some stores, especially online retailers, don't have to ask. They already have the answers they're looking for, helping them sell more products. They know what you buy, in what amount, at what price, how you pay, and when you are most likely to come back to restock your supplies.
Moreover, they know who you are, the best ways to deliver advertising to you, and they know what else you are likely to buy at the same time you buy toilet paper or deodorant.
While the specific examples above may not cause envy among law enforcement, the fact that retailers have better analytical capacities than most law enforcement agencies should.
This fact frustrates Colleen "Kelly" McCue, a senior research scientist at RTI International, a non-profit research institute.
"In law enforcement, if you do your analysis wrong, you can compromise public safety," she says.
Before joining RTI International, McCue was program manager for the Richmond (Virginia) Police Department Crime Analysis Unit, where she pioneered the use of data mining and predictive analysis.
Data mining, also referred to as predictive analytics (or analysis), sense making or knowledge discovery, involves the systematic analysis of large data sets using automated methods, she explains. Wanting to help the enforcement community learn more about data mining, she wrote "Data Mining and Predictive Analysis."
McCue is hopeful data mining will become more widespread in law enforcement, because she says it is within the grasp of agencies of all sizes and at all levels. In fact, she says agencies are already data mining to some extent in investigations (determining motive is one example), but they also can use data mining to predict and prevent criminal acts.
A big emphasis today is being placed on counting crime, counting what happened, she says.
"One of the things data mining and predictive analytics allows us to do is move from counting crime to anticipating, preventing and perhaps responding more effectively to it," she says. "We can focus on what we consider to be an effective use of our information and how we want to manage our resources and fight crime. If it is counting crime, that's great. But we know criminal behavior tends to be relatively predictable. By exploiting the data, we can be much more proactive in anticipating and preventing crime than we are now."
The importance of analysis
Data which means nothing to one case could solve another.
"All law enforcement data is very important," says Steve McCraw, director of homeland security in Texas. "A parking ticket, for example, could be a valuable lead in a conspiracy investigation being worked on a series of robberies."
Overall, law enforcement has become very good at collecting and compiling data, especially since the advent of computerized records management systems. Regional sharing initiatives and state-level fusion centers add to the data that individual agencies can tap into. And, national law enforcement data sharing standards help make this possible.
While information sharing initiatives certainly are beneficial, McCue says "don't stop there." Once data is collected in a meaningful fashion, the next step is analysis, she notes.
Unfortunately, McCue adds, the importance of analysis is not a universal understanding today.
Yet, she says the process of analyzing the data is important to:
confirm what you already know and,
discover new information or relationships in data (knowledge discovery).
Jay Albanese, graduate director of criminal justice at Virginia Commonwealth University, says police need information more than ever before and it is increasingly difficult to obtain.
The point at which police solve major crimes has been dropping nationwide over the past 10 to 15 years, he says. One reason is there are more complicated crimes, affiliated with terrorists, organized crime or ethnic minorities, where language can be a barrier.
Data mining technology
Once the value of analysis is understood, McCraw says the question is "How do you sift through the data and find the key elements that can help prevent an act of terrorism or crime?"
Law enforcement chiefs, sheriffs and other managers want to work smarter, cheaper and faster, says McCraw, former FBI assistant director of The Office of Intelligence.
"The way to do that is to do what the private industry has done and take advantage of the tremendous gains in information technology," he says, noting law enforcement should adopt the National Information Exchange Model for its records management systems.
"You want to be able to empower your personnel with the ability to find points of information they previously couldn't — and to find the links, the associations between data sets. That's very powerful."
Timely information also is key.
"You want to be able to exploit the data in your files as quickly as possible," he adds.
If it takes a week to show a supervisor the crimes that took place in one night, it's dated; it's not as useful as showing a supervisor last night's crimes, says Albanese, former chief of The International Center for the National Institute of Justice.
"The longer the time lag between the incident and being able to get it into a useable form, the less useful it is," he says, noting reports should be electronically entered (not handwritten) so data can be included in analysis and acted on quickly.
Using an analytical overlay or filter with remote data entry, an investigator could enter relevant information while at a crime scene and receive a rapid analytical response, McCue says.
Specialized databases can be created for crime or intelligence analysis. These databases might be offense-specific, such as a homicide or robbery database, or associated with a pattern of crimes. Records management databases generally were not made for analysis. Rather, McCue says they were created for case management and general crime counting.
Unfortunately, analytical software is not inexpensive and software specifically for data mining and predictive analytics falls into the high end of the price range, McCue points out. Agencies sharing information could benefit from pooling their financial resources for data analysis. Predictive analytics requires specialized software. Other data mining can be done without sophisticated software, but, she adds, "the software really helps."
Link analysis tools, used to identify relationships in data, such as telephone calls, can be an economical point of entry into data mining, she suggests.
Natural data miners
With today's friendly, commercial-off-the-shelf software packages, McCue believes most agencies are capable of analyzing their own data.
In fact, she says investigators and crime analysts are natural data miners. Based on her experience, she says it's far easier to teach them how to use data mining tools and apply them to law enforcement than it is to teach statisticians how to work in law enforcement.
For those somewhat afraid of numbers and run an incalculable distance at the mention of "statistics," McCue offers comfort: "Data mining is an intuitive process. It's not statistics."
What is important is knowing:
what questions you want to answer,
what you need to analyze the data and
what you need the output to look like.
There also are rules of the road to avoid errors in analysis, but McCue reassures they're not very difficult.
"I think it's incredibly important that law enforcement agencies get over the fear and trepidation and technophobia or whatever they might have, and analyze their own data," McCue says. "Particularly in a specific department or region, agencies are going to have the tacit knowledge and domain expertise, and understand their data better than anyone else. I can't go in and learn a community to the depth they already know. They are going to have that domain or subject matter expertise on their community and department that's going to be necessary to evaluate the results and operationalize them effectively."
Albanese points out the New York City Police Department's CompStat, now used by a number of other agencies, is essentially an exercise in data mining. "It's looking more carefully, more systematically at the information police are already collecting," he says. "It's looking at reported crimes and different areas of the city, plotting them on maps, looking at trends, looking at the allocation of police around the city, looking for hotspots."
Law enforcement also can use data mining to marshal support of the community to assist in crime prevention. Armed with data about trends and patterns, police can turn to businesses, school groups and others, and show where help is needed.
"If a lot of theft activity is taking place near a mall, it only makes sense the shopping mall share responsibility for the efforts to prevent crime there," he says.
Long-term, he says, "We want to prevent crime, and crime prevention is really everybody's responsibility."
Police managers who understand data mining can in turn educate the public about data mining and its benefits, as well as address critics.
"Police managers, command staff and public officials always need to be sensitive to public perceptions about how they do business," McCue says. "There's a move toward transparent government. People want to know how we do things, how we analyze data, what data we're looking at."
Working with the city council, legislators or an agency's oversight group is important when technology is upgraded, McCraw says, because it helps alleviate presumptions and misinformation.
Data mining is not an abusive technique to spy on citizens, says McCraw, who testified before Congress on the subject during his tenure with the FBI.
"It's using information technology to locate the information that you need among data you already have," he emphasizes.
Data mining is an analytical process. "The same rules that have always applied to legally permissible means of accessing data are always going to apply," McCue says.
Other criticisms of data mining are that it doesn't work and wastes resources.
"I think they are absolutely wrong," she adds. "We found it does work. When data mining is done by someone who knows data mining, and understands the limitations of law enforcement data and the analytical outcomes sought — or works with someone who does — data mining reduces errors."
While with the Richmond PD, McCue used data mining to reduce gunfire complaints by almost 50 percent on New Year's Eve 2003 and increase the number of illegal weapons seized by 246 percent from the previous year, while using fewer officers.
Some data mining is more difficult than others. Very infrequent events are difficult to model.
"That is where I think it becomes really important law enforcement personnel do the analysis themselves or participate very actively in the analysis," she says.
Despite the fact that measures are taken to reduce errors, errors happen, as they do with anything.
McCue uses a medical analogy to remind that not all errors in law enforcement are equal.
As long as a disease is identified effectively, screening tools are allowed a certain number of errors, or false positives. Yet, there are other situations in which there is no room for error. If someone who is ill is given a wrong antibiotic, an illness might not only not be cured, it could worsen.
Again, people doing data mining must work closely with people who understand law enforcement and criminal behavior so they can make informed decisions about the nature of the errors, which errors are acceptable and which are not, she says.
"Maybe if you put officers in the wrong location, they spend a night in the cold," she says. "That's not necessarily a big deal."
But, she says if you're using data mining to determine motive and you make an error, the danger associated with misdirecting resources can cause a crime to remain unsolved.
In her book, McCue gives the example of creating a model that's 97-percent accurate by always predicting crime will not take place in a certain low crime area. That is unacceptable, she says.
"Getting inside the nature of the errors and making informed decisions is key," she says.
Predicting the need for predictive analysis
Once law enforcement starts looking at data mining, they realize in many ways, they're already doing it, she says.
Determining motive in violent crimes is one example she gives: "It's setting up decision trees: Was the victim at high risk or was the victim not at high risk? Was the victim killed in the location she or he was found, or was the victim moved? Was it a crime of opportunity?"
McCue encourages capturing and extending some of the natural data mining that's already occurring and then bringing in additional law enforcement-specific tools. While more can be done today, even more will be needed tomorrow.
"The population of the United States is at an all-time high, so the volume of crime is going to rise as population increases," Albanese says. "As the population gets more diverse, solving crimes is going to get more and more difficult. Police need all the potential tools they can find, and I think data mining is a very useful tool."
McCraw asks, "How can you not be excited about being able to identify seemingly unidentifiable points that will enable you to prevent acts of terrorism or crime or even solve crimes?"
Considerations for educated law enforcement consumers
When given the go-ahead to invest dollars in data mining, author Colleen McCue warns command staff and analysts not to get caught up in marketing messages, but to evaluate products and services, and select only those that are truly helpful.
"Repeatedly, I've seen people go out and purchase very expensive tools or services, and get half-way through and realize they've bought a marketing slogan," she says. "They didn't really buy anything with substance that's going to help them.
"They end up with products that they either need to replace or they can't use; or services that have them make costly mistakes. In public safety analysis, if we make an error, people can die because of it."
She says informed law enforcement consumers must ask vendors questions, such as:
How do you evaluate accuracy?
How do you evaluate your models?
How are you going to aggregate my data?
How do you handle duplication?
"There are some incredibly powerful tools which can create incredibly complex and accurate models," she says. "That's not necessarily the best fit for every agency. There are things that you can do just by making a decision to exploit your data in a different way and look at it differently. With education, you can go in and start probing the data and exploring it."
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race
on: October 12, 2008, 10:11:50 AM
Location: SCG HQ
Situation: Election drawing close, Obama still an enigma
Date: Sunday, 12 OCT 2008
SCG International is a non-partisan organization providing private intelligence, security and training services.
We seem on the verge of putting into the Oval Office a man who, less than a month before the election, remains an enigma.
Is he, despite having the most liberal voting record in the Senate, the moderate politician he presents himself as in the debates and on the stump? Or is he, if not a leftist radical himself, someone perfectly comfortable in the company of such?
If the latter, has he been not just misleading, but lying about his past? If so, what else has he been lying about, and what other lies might he tell us if elected?
We went through a presidency with many unsavory associations, and serial fabrications about them, in the 1990s. Do we want to repeat the experience?
In 1992, the Democrat's presidential nominee had a long history of questionable acquaintances, shady real estate deals, and multiple infidelities to both his wife and many of his political associates.
He also had a long-standing abusive relationship with the truth, which had earned him the sobriquet in Arkansas of "Slick Willy."
While not every charge flung at him was true, many were. He truly was the most corrupt president since Warren Harding (in fact, there are a number of other eerie similarities between the two presidents), and perhaps in U.S. history.
That came as no surprise to those who had observed him as attorney general and governor of Arkansas.
The Whitewater problems were no secret before the 1992 election, nor were his dalliances, except to most of the public. The local press in Arkansas was quite familiar with this history, but the national media refused to either investigate or report it, instead going so far as to famously whitewash his marital problems on 60 Minutes.
While many of Clinton's scandals were for things that occurred during his administration, his Arkansas record should have been adequate to keep him out of national office, had it been known.
By cocooning him from the voting public, the media managed to get him into the White House, only to have all the old scandals revealed, and new ones created, after he became president.
The tragic thing about the Clinton presidency is that it didn't have to happen, and we could have been spared all of the scandals, including Lewinsky, had there been proper coverage and investigation of him before the election.
In fact, the media could have even gotten a different Democrat president, had they simply aired Clinton's dirty laundry during the primaries. It was, after all, a Democrat year, particularly with Ross Perot in the mix to siphon off votes from George H.W. Bush.
But they fell in love with Bill Clinton and, as we all know, love is blind. The problem, of course, is that when the major media wear blinders, the rest of us don't get the view. That was particularly the case in 1992 when the web had just been invented and the only people using the Internet were nerds.
Well, now the media have found a new paramour with a checkered past, and they (with a few exceptions) are once again lovingly carrying (or at least attempting to carry) the non-blushing bride across the electoral threshold.
Just as few bothered to go to Little Rock in 1992, the media haven't been able to spare any reporters from their vital duties in checking library records in Wasilla, Alaska, to take a trip to Hyde Park to see just what this new candidate is and was about.
Fortunately, this time there are a few individuals who have been doing so, and unlike 1992, they have their own printing presses, in the form of blogs and web publications. What they've found is potentially disturbing, and certainly information that the voting public should have a right to know before it buys another pig in a poke.
There is a disturbing pattern to revelations of Senator Obama's unsavory associations. Whenever one is uncovered, it is minimized both by denying the depth of the relationship, and by denying that there is anything wrong with the associate and this campaign spin is unfailingly reported by the media.
Let's examine a few of them.
First there was Tony Rezko, a now-convicted felon (and under investigation at the time) who helped the Obamas purchase their home in Chicago on strangely favorable terms. When confronted about it, Senator Obama told us that it "wasn't the Tony Rezko I knew."
Next came Reverend Jeremiah Wright. Barack and Michelle Obama were members of his congregation for two decades, sat in the pews on Sunday, were married by him, had their children baptized by him, were spiritually advised by him. The title of Senator Obama's self-aggrandizing book was taken from one of his sermons. Yet they professed surprise when his repeated bigoted and anti-American ravings were aired last spring, and then said that this was normal for an African-American church. He asks us to believe that he was unaware of his long-time pastor's inflammatory rhetoric.
Now, with the left-wing social activist organization ACORN in the news because its Nevada office was raided in an investigation of voter fraud, Senator Obama, who has been a trainer and legal counsel for the organization, is denying his relationship with it. Of course, there are other reasons to not want to be associated with it, given it (and his) at least partial responsibility for the current financial crisis. But there's abundant evidence to the contrary.
Now that the McCain campaign is exposing his long-standing relationship with terrorist Bill Ayers, former Weatherman and domestic terrorist (not to mention his wife Bernardine Dohrn, a founder of that group), the Obama campaign responds by saying that the bombings were something that happened when he was eight years old.
As if that's a defense of a close association with someone who has never expressed regret for his actions, and who remains unrepentant and defiant about it. Then they deny the relationship, claiming that he was "just a guy in my neighborhood."
Well, with all of the Rezkos, Wrights, Ayers and Dohrns, it's starting to look like a pretty rough neighborhood. Perhaps he should consider moving.
Except the denials don't hold up.
Senator Obama has claimed that the fact that his initial campaign kickoff for a State Senate seat in 1996 was hosted at the home of Ayers and Dohrn was just a happenstance - that they had nothing to do with his career. But this week, that fact was exposed as a lie.
When people tried to investigate their relationship in the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, in which hundreds of millions was spent to radicalize schoolchildren while contributing nothing to their actual education, the University of Illinois attempted to prevent access to the relevant history.
At whose behest? If it was the Obama campaign behind the scenes, it wouldn't be inconsistent with their recent attempts to shut down free speech in Missouri.
The latest revelation is that Senator Obama was a member of the leftist "New Party," an offshoot of Democratic Socialists of America. If history is a guide, he'll deny it, despite the evidence (an unsuccessful attempt has been made to scrub all references to Obama from the website). Or else simply say "Hey, we could use a little socialism now, given the state of the economy."
Given this history, it is long past the time that Senator Obama should be given the benefit of the doubt.
At this point, the question should be: why should we believe anything that he or his campaign tells us?
Leave aside the ideological question of whether or not we want someone with such an apparent radical leftist history running the country. Is this kind of spin and prevarication that we want to deal with for the next four years?
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Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues
on: October 11, 2008, 10:34:54 PM
****I don't see how Randy Weaver applies to this. He was a fringe associate of the Aryan Nations that was charged with violations of federal firearms laws and rather to going to court he hid behind his family, forcing a confrontation with federal law enforcement. No datamining was involved.****
A couple points, however. The synopsis and original piece point out problems with data mining that remain undiscussed. We do get to point out problems with law enforcement techniques and discuss them, right? Examination of issues and intelligent discussion thereof is more likely to lead to a resolution than blind adherence to the party line, so pardon me if I don't stand mute lest I be blamed for the next smoking hole.
**An informed discussion would be nice, however what usually happens is that any use of technology for law enforcement purposes means we are but minutes away from a dystopian police state.**
I suppose. It also appears you can’t post empiric data about the problems associated with data mining without being minutes away from other sorts of circular discussions, too.****Again, what are the problems? It's not a silver bullet for finding terrorists? It's just kind of scary in an undefined way?****
Speaking of which, the smoking hole or unfettered access damn the constitutional issues dichotomy strikes me as a false one. I've little doubt that there is an intersection at which security imperatives and founding principles can both be serviced. Citing one extreme to excuse the other does a great job of representing the margins, but does little to find the ground where the hole is avoided and the Constitution isn't shredded.
**How exactly does datamining shred the constitution?**
I expect any shredding that is currently being done is pretty well concealed, and hence can’t speak to it. ****So it's bad, just in a way you can't quite describe?****
I do recall the hubbub when Judge Bork’s video rental records were obtained by the press. ****The press, not the police.****
As someone who’s had his internet postings come back to bite him on other fronts, I am concerned about misuse of mined information. ****If you put things out into the public forums, it becomes PUBLIC.****
If you’re unable to see how, say, protections against illegal search and seizure may be subverted by data mining, I’m not sure anything I say can drive the point home.****Yeah, I don't see how sorting through voluntarily supplied information violates any constitutional protection. I have yet to see anyone here explain how it does.****
Finally, as I've pointed out several times, the powers we're discussing are ones mullahs can only dream about. You can't imagine these capabilities being misused?
**Anything can be misused. There have been bad police shootings, and there will be more in the future. Is the answer to then disarm the police? Iatrogenic disease is a concern, but the answer isn't banning medical science, right?**
Not seeking to ban police work or medical research. Have no problem creating checks against bad police work and bad medical research, however. I can identify checks meant to prevent bad meds and bad shootings; I can’t ID checks against extra-legal use of mined data. Perhaps you know of some?****Again, how does datamining violate any constitutional protections?****
You can't imagine someone with autocratic leanings winning an election, defining people who own guns and discuss politics on a militant martial arts web site to be security threats, and using the power of collection and collation to build a case against those who, quite coincidently, of course, don't agree with his politics?
**What laws are violated? Who brings this before what court? What jury would find that a crime was committed?**
I expect those were the sorts of questions that went through Randy Weaver’s mind. . . .
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues
on: October 11, 2008, 09:54:39 PM
"If you are really concerned about it, i'd suggest that you go "off the grid" as much as possible."
Mmmm, , , No thank you. I am American and I don't shut up for fear of the government. I simply would rather not to have to have courage to speak out or read about odd things. Nor should people who wish to get involved a lot more than me have to worry about a State capable of playing a level of the politics of personal destruction for beyond anything we've seen.
PS: I would like to offer for your consideration that overal I think Buz and I have a pretty good track record around here of lucid reasoning, so I am left wondering at the relevance of general references to wooly headed liberal thinking.
So then what policy or law do you want that will address your concerns?